Naval AW-159 Wildcat ASW helicopters of the Republic of Korea (VIDEO)

   

On 15 January 2013, South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration announced the selection of the AW159 to fulfill a requirement of the Republic of Korea Navy for a maritime helicopter, winning out against the MH-60R Seahawk. The batch of eight aircraft were chosen to perform search-and-rescue missions, anti-submarine ωɑɾʄɑɾε and surveillance. In January 2014, DAPA announced it will equip its Wildcat helicopters with Spike NLOS missiles to provide a stand-off attack capability for engaging targets such as ground artillery and small vessels.

In April 2015, the South Korean government was considering ordering a further 12 Wildcats to further strengthen the Navy’s anti-submarine capabilities; alternative options include the MH-60 Seahawk and the domestically produced KAI KUH-1 Surion helicopter. On 13 June 2016, the Republic of Korea Navy took delivery of four Wildcats, after some unspecified initial delays. The helicopters operate from the Navy’s Incheon-class guided missile/coastal defense frigates. The remaining four were delivered in late November 2016.

Republic of Korea Navy Wildcats are fitted with a Seaspray 7400E radar offering 360-degree coverage. The first four AW159s were operational by February 2017. Its AESA radar and electro-optic thermal sensor are capable of detecting surface contacts out to 360 km (220 mi; 190 nmi). For anti-submarine duties, the helicopter can operate for over three hours when equipped with the Thales FLASH dipping sonar, two hours with the sonar and one Blue Shark torpedo, and an hour or more with the sonar and two torpedoes; it can also drop sonobuoys.

The AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat (previously called the Future Lynx and Lynx Wildcat) is an improved version of the Westland Super Lynx military helicopter designed to serve in the battlefield utility, search and rescue and anti-surface ωɑɾʄɑɾε roles. In British service, common variants are being operated by both the Royal Navy and British Army, having replaced their Lynx Mk.7/8/9 predecessors. The AW159 has also been offered to several export customers, and has been ordered by the Republic of Korea Navy and the Philippine Navy.

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