Air Weapons: Spike NLOS For South Korean Wildcats

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February 3, 2014:   South Korea has decided on the armament for its eight British made AW159 Wildcat helicopters that are being used on the new locally built FFX frigates. These helicopters will carry the Spike NLOS missile. The Wildcat is based on the earlier Super Lynx and Lynx naval helicopters. The British Army and Royal Navy have also ordered AW159s. Similar in size and capability to the U.S. SH-60 Seahawk, these two helicopters often compete with each other for export sales.

South Korea plans to build 15 or more FFXs and each will require two Wildcats, even though these frigates often go to sea with only one helicopter. The six ton Wildcat has a normal endurance of 90 minutes (270 minutes carrying max fuel) and a top speed of 290 kilometers an hour. For naval service the Wildcat can carry dipping sonar and one or two anti-submarine torpedoes. In cargo mode it can carry seven passengers or half a ton of cargo.

After three years of negotiations, discussions and evaluations South Korea finally agreed to acquire the long-range (25 kilometers) version of the Israeli Spike missile. This version, Spike NLOS (Non Line-Of-Sight), weighs 70kg (155 pounds), twice what the next largest version. Spike is a series of anti-tank (or whatever) missiles with ranges from 200-25,000 meters. Spike NLOS can be fired at a target the operator cannot see (but someone else, with a laser designator, can see). Spike NLOS is usually fired from helicopters, which also provides the laser designator. South Korea wants to use Spike NLOS off their west coast, to help block North Korean attempts to invade South Korean islands near the maritime border. The Wildcat Helicopters will four Spike NLOS. A helicopter only has to be about 40 meters (122 feet) high to spot something 25 kilometers away. The Spike NLOS has multiple guidance systems, including a live video feed that allows the pilot to fly the missile into to the target, or use the image of the selected target to have the missile home in by itself (“fire and forget”). On the downside Spike NLOS is expensive, costing over $250,000 each.

 


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