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South Korea progresses airborne MCM plans with KRW345 billion contract with KAI

KAI's mine countermeasures helicopter will be based on the Marineon helicopter, which is being developed for the Republic of Korea Marine Corps. (Korea Aerospace Industries )

South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has signed a KRW345 billion (USD270 million) contract with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to develop an airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM) system for the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN).

Development of the project will be conducted over 47 months, said KAI. Its Marineon amphibious mobile helicopter, which is being developed for the Republic of Korea Marine Corps (RoKMC), will be adapted for the role, added KAI.

The helicopter will use avionics systems and software, which has been developed for KAI's Surion, Marineon, and Light Armed Helicopter (LAH), according to KAI.

“Interoperability is expected, as well as increased utilisation and reduced operating and maintenance costs,” KAI said. “One prototype [will be] produced,” it added in an official statement.

The helicopter will incorporate three types of AMCM mission equipment that can search, identify, and defuse mines. According to KAI, these systems will comprise laser mine search equipment, an underwater autonomous mine search vehicle, and an unmanned mine neutralisation system.

The laser-based mine search equipment will be used to detect moored mines or mines in shallow water, mines in deep water are searched for using underwater autonomous mine search vehicles, KAI said.

“Identified mines are identified and destroyed by operators using unmanned mine neutralisation systems operated by optical cables,” KAI said.

The AMCM helicopter will be operated from Nampo- and Wonsan-class minelayers or the Dokdo-class amphibious assault ships, according to KAI. The helicopter will be designed for operations by the RoKN from major ports and shore-based facilities.

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