LIG Nex1 showcases multirole naval UAV

South Korean defence prime LIG Nex1 showcased its vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) development at the MADEX International Maritime Defense Industry Exhibition in Busan.

The company’s Multi-Purpose Unmanned Helicopter (MPUH) is designed to serve on board the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN)’s principal surface warfare ships to provide organic long-range observation and targeting support.

According to LIG Nex1, the compact MPUH has a length of just 3.5 m and a maximum take-off weight of 200 kg but can carry a payload of up to 60 kg and operate at ranges in excess of 50 km from its mothership. The company added that the air vehicle offers an endurance of six hours and a maximum speed of 140 km/h.

In terms of equipment, the MPUH can be fitted with an electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) pod and a front-facing camera for reconnaissance and targeting operations.

The profile of the MPUH appear to closely match the Schiebel S-100 Camcopter, which also features a maximum take-off weight of 200 kg and a typical payload of 50 kg including fuel and sensors. The type can operate for up to six hours out to a maximum range of around 200 km, although endurance can be extended with an external fuel tank.

South Korea had earlier trialled the S-100 UAV around a decade ago for possible surveillance operations in the Yellow Sea.

LIG Nex1 earlier headed a team comprising BDBrain, Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), Korea Marine Transport Company (KMTC), and SungWoo Engineering to develop a VTOL UAV technology demonstrator based on SungWoo Engineering’s SD-180 agricultural VTOL UAV.

Elsewhere in Korea, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is also developing a VTOL UAV called the Night Intruder 600 VT. The company announced in January that it had entered into a partnership with Northrop Grumman to jointly develop an undisclosed VTOL UAV for RoKN shipborne UAV requirements.

by Jr Ng