“The plane is an extremely effective anti-submarine platform because it is very cost efficient,” said Jun. The M80 can carry 24 Sonartech sonar buoys, has a maximum flight speed of 250 kilometers per hour, and a range of 800 kilometers. The M80 launches the buoys into the ocean in order to detect submarines. “This frees up much more expensive platforms, such as the P-8 Poseidon, allowing them to conduct other operations.”
Moreover, the Sonartech Side Sonar, installed below the cockpit, allows the plane itself to act as a surveillance vessel when afloat. “Because the plane is still in the development phase for now, we’re even looking into ways to make the sonar retractable,” said Jun.
Jun stressed that, although the seaplane is primarily designed to assist in anti-submarine warfare, he believes the plane is versatile enough to be used in a wide array of missions. “It’s maximum sailing speed is 120 kilometers per hour. Cruise sailing speed will be somewhere between 50 and 60 kilometers per hour. This makes it faster than most naval ships out there. Coupled with the fact that it can carry up to 16 LIG Nex1 70 mm Bigung (비궁) Low cOst Guided Imaging Rockets, we expect the platform to be an effective weapon against fast small combatants, such as North Korean missile boats. Moreover, the civilian variant is already operational, while the medical variant is also under development.”
The plane is expected to have very high mission readiness rates as well. Jun explained that the plane could set sail within 15 minutes of an emergency arising and within five minutes of engine ignition.
According to Jun, the company has already started talks with several nations regarding export. “Posco International is actually in charge of marketing for us because they’re the second largest shareholder. We’re engaged in talks with 12 different countries, including Turkey, Italy, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia.”
The company is expected to start production next February. “We acquired a 130,000 square meter plot of land in Gyeongsangnam-do for this purpose. We hope to be exporting advanced technology while also creating jobs along the way.”