July 5 (UPI) — South Korea’s navy has deployed four more AW-159 anti-submarine helicopters to deter North Korean subs, bringing the total number of “Wildcat” helicopters in deployment to eight.
The helicopters have been gradually introduced to a frontline fleet. Four helicopters were acquired in June 2016 and an additional four Wildcats were purchased in December of last year, South Korean news service EDaily reported.
The helicopters can be mounted on combat ships and can perform anti-submarine, anti-ship and naval reconnaissance missions.
The choppers can be armed with the Chung Sang Eo torpedo and can strike small targets with a 12.7-millimeter machine gun.
The twin-engine rotorcraft can engage in precision strikes against enemy targets, including air-cushion vehicles, using infrared homing as a weapon guidance system. It can be armed with advanced anti-ship guided missiles.
The detection system of the chopper includes a low frequency dipping sonar and an expendable sonar system that can be dropped or ejected from the aircraft, also known as a sonobuoy.
An active electronically scanned antenna, or AESA, is included in the system, along with electro-optical thermal equipment for long-range precision monitoring.
The AESA is capable of detecting targets within a 200-mile range, according to the report.
Commander Kwak Han-jung of the South Korean navy’s 622nd aviation unit, said, “As the eight new AW-159 maritime operation helicopters with superb anti-submarine, anti-ship detection and attack capabilities have become fully operational, our military’s defense posture has been strengthened further.”
In 2016, North Korea condemned Europe after AgustaWestland exported the Wildcat helicopters to South Korea.