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South Korea launches indigenous mine detection AUV development

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on 9 December that it will commence indigenous development of an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) optimised for mine detection.

DAPA said it awarded a KRW12 billion (USD 11 million) contract with local defence prime LIG Nex1 to develop highly autonomous underwater robots that can perform precise navigation and collision avoidance to boost the Republic of Korea Navy’s (RoKN’s) mine countermeasure (MCM) capabilities.

A computer rending of DAPA’s mine detection AUV development.  (DAPA)

A computer rending of DAPA’s mine detection AUV development. (DAPA)

The RoKN presently maintains a fleet of Swallow- and Yang Yang-class MCM vessels (MCMVs) to detect and defeat sea mines, according to Janes Fighting Ships.

The agency said the new mine detection AUV will be developed by 2023 and is expected to enable the RoKN to conduct MCM operations without risking its personnel.

DAPA said the AUV will also be able to monitor underwater infiltration, support rescue operations in marine accidents, or collect topographical information on the seabed.

It is understood that initial studies and development of the AUV was performed by Hanwha Systems, although further work will now be undertaken by LIG Nex1.

RoKN officials told Janes that the AUV will be deployed by the service’s future Mine Sweeper Hunter-2 (MSH-2) MCMVs to be built from 2024.

Besides LIG Nex1, Hanwha Systems is also developing a new unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) that aimed at anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations.

The unmanned platform, named ASWUUV, was revealed at the MADEX 2019 exhibition in Busan.

The ASWUUV has been under development by DAPA since 2017. Janes earlier reported that trials are scheduled in 2021, with development expected to be completed by 2022.

Hanwha officials told Janes

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