South Korea receives first batch of AW159 anti-submarine helicopters

IHS Janes

14 June 2016

Key Points

  • South Korea has received its four AW159 naval helicopters after initial delays
  • The South Korean navy is now expected to operationalise the aircraft from mid-2017

The Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN) has received its first batch of four AW159 shipborne anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters from Ango-Italian defence company Leonardo-Finmeccanica.

The aircraft, which were delivered on 13 June, is part of an order for eight airframes announced in January 2013 under South Korea’s Maritime Operational Helicopter programme that seeks to boost the RoKN’s submarine prosecution capabilities. The helicopters are expected to be operated from the RoKN’s Incheon-class guided-missile frigates.

The AW159s were originally scheduled to be delivered in the third quarter of 2015 but was delayed by the aircraft’s site acceptance tests (SATs). “The SATs are taking longer than expected but we are working with the customer to reduce the impact on the whole programme,” a Leonardo-Finmeccanica representative told IHS Jane’s in February 2016 at the Singapore Airshow.

According to specifications provided by the company, the AW159 platform features a maximum take-off weight of 6 tonnes, a maximum range of 265 nm (490 km), and a maximum endurance of 2 hours and 40 mins at 6,000 ft.

Besides ASW sensors, the helicopter can also be armed with lightweight torpedoes, such as the K745 Cheong Sangeo (Blue Shark), and depth charges to prosecute underwater vessels. Thales confirmed in October 2013 that the RoKN’s AW159 helicopters will be equipped with the company’s Compact FLASH Sonics low-frequency, long-range dipping sonar system. The airframes will also be equipped with the Seaspray 7000E active electronically scanned array radar supplied by Selex.

A Leonardo-Finmeccanica representative told IHS Jane’s on 13 June that the company is currently scheduled to deliver the final batch of four helicopters by the fourth quarter of 2016. South Korean news agency Yonhap also reported on the same day that the RoKN is aiming to operationally deploy the AW159s from mid-2017.


K745 Cheong Sangeo (Blue Shark)


K745 Chung Sang Eo (Blue Shark) torpedo (Hangul: 청상어 어뢰) is a light anti-submarine torpedo developed by the Republic of Korea Navy in 2004. The Blue Shark torpedo can be deployed from surface ships, ASW helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft.

Weight 280 kg
Length 2.7 m
Width 0.32 m
19 km
Speed 45+ knots (83+ km/h)


AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat: Details

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