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MADEX 2023: LIG Nex1's Sea Sword-5 piques interest as future command ship USV

A model of the Sea Sword-5 USV by LIG Nex1 on display at MADEX 2023. (Janes/Ridzwan Rahmat)

The Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN) is now considering LIG Nex1's Sea Sword-5 as one of the vehicles that will be operated from its future command ships for unmanned systems.

The Sea Sword-5 is an 8 m unmanned surface vessel (USV) that was first unveiled by LIG Nex1 in 2022 and originally positioned for the Korea Coast Guard's maritime surveillance requirements.

However, the USV has now also received interest from naval planners as a force protection vehicle that can be deployed from the RoKN's future command ships, said an LIG Nex1 representative who spoke to Janes at the MADEX 2023 exhibition in Busan.

South Korea is believed to be in the process of acquiring the so-called command ships that will play host to a wide variety of unmanned air, surface, and underwater vehicles. Shipbuilders Hyundai Heavy Industries and Hanwha Ocean have each presented proposals for this upcoming requirement.

The Sea Sword-5 is the latest iteration in the LIG Nex1 Sea Sword series of USVs. It displaces about 3 tonnes and can achieve top speeds in excess of 40 kt.

When controlled, the USV can operate at distances of up to 15 km from its operator console, but it can also be programmed to sail independently as it has been incorporated with obstacle avoidance algorithms, said the LIG Nex1 representative.

The USV is armed with a 12.7 mm machine gun mounted within a remote-controlled weapon station and an electro-optical sensor. Besides navigation radars and automatic identification system (AIS) transponders, the Sea Sword-5 is equipped with obstacle-avoidance proximity sensors to mitigate against collisions.

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