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Sea Platforms

South Korean coast guard reveals plans to introduce shipboard UAVs

07 July 2017

Documents have revealed that the Republic of Korea’s Coast Guard (KCG) is looking to introduce unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to operate from its offshore patrol vessels (OPVs).

A summary of acquisition-related activities for March - April 2017, published in late May, has shown that the KCG conducted business negotiations for UAV sea trials from the OPV Taepungyang V during March. The UAV manufacturer or type was not disclosed.

An image of the new UAV-equipped 1,500 ton OPV planned to replace the extant Jemin 1 salvage ship by 2020. (KCG/MPSS)An image of the new UAV-equipped 1,500 ton OPV planned to replace the extant Jemin 1 salvage ship by 2020. (KCG/MPSS)

The KCG has also announced plans to induct a large 1,500 ton OPV equipped with a UAV by 2020. In February 2017 the service said it expected to award a KRW70 billion (USD 61 million) construction contract for the OPV sometime in May. The OPV will replace the Jemin 1 , a 77.6 m, 2,200 ton salvage ship that entered service in 1992.

The new OPV will have a length of 102 m, a beam of 14 m and a full load displacement of around 2,900 tons. Powered by a hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system driving two shafts, its top speed will be 26 kt. Armament will include a twin 40 mm gun and a 20 mm Vulcan gun; other shipboard equipment includes a 10 m high-speed rigid hull inflatable boat for at-sea interceptions, extra searchlights to improve night search and rescue (SAR) capabilities, and a multibeam echo sounder.

The new OPV is part of a larger package of 24 vessels - comprising eight different classes - valued at KRW119.6 billion (USD103.6 million) that the KCG plans to build and induct from 2017 through 2020. Other significant vessels in this package include two 100-ton patrol boats for KRW20 billion by 2020, two 60 ton patrol boats for KRW12 billion by 2019, and four 600 ton fuel oil barges for KRW11.5 billion by 2019. Others include an assortment of 15 small craft for KRW6.1 billion, all slated for induction in 2017.

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