BAE Systems wins airborne mine disposal system contract with South Korea

BAE Systems Archerfish
BAE Systems Archerfish

BAE Systems has won a contract to adapt its Archerfish mine disposal system for naval helicopters built by Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI), as part of the development of the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN’s) new anti-mine helicopter fleet, the company announced on 12 June.

Under the £7.4 million (US$9.4 million) contract BAE Systems will provide a complete mine countermeasure (MCM) capability to be integrated to the minehunting variant of the KAI KUH-1 Surion medium helicopter, along with engineering expertise and support to KAI and RoKN.

The contract calls for the development of new features including lightweight launcher and a new data connection link between the helicopter and Archerfish vehicle. The total number of systems acquired is unknown, although it is understood that KAI intends to integrate a single launcher with four Archerfish systems aboard each MCM-configured Surion helicopter (MCH).

The Surion MCH helicopter will also be equipped with the Northrop Grumman Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) to detect floating mines and shallow-water mines.

Archerfish is a remote-controlled underwater mine neutralisation system that is launched and operated from surface ships, underwater vehicles and helicopters. According to BAE Systems, Archerfish reduces the time needed to identify and neutralise targets and eliminates the need to put divers into the water. The system is manufactured in the UK at BAE Systems’ Broad Oak facility in Portsmouth, Hampshire, and Hillend facility in Dunfermline, Fife.

“We are proud to be working with Korea Aerospace Industries to develop the Republic of Korea Navy’s future helicopter mine neutralisation capability,” said Dr Brooke Hoskins, Director of Products and Training Services for BAE Systems Maritime Services.

“This builds on Archerfish’s proven credentials for mine clearance operations with the US Navy,” added Dr Hoskins. “Archerfish helps to keep sailors safe, increases the efficiency of mine clearance missions, and is small and lightweight making it ideal for integration into airborne and surface platforms.”

The RoKN intends to operate the Surion MCH from its Nampo- and Wonsan-class minelayers, and possibly its Dokdo-class amphibious assault ship.

by Jr Ng