In an interview with Naval News, Bumhan Vice-President Hyun Khil Shin said that the company hopes to deliver the system to the ROK Navy by the late 2020s.
“This propulsion system will greatly enhance the ASWUUV’s capabilities. The company has already completed initial research on the system. With the next phase set to begin in the 2023-2024 timeframe, we are confident we can deliver the technology before 2030.”
Hyun Khil Shin, Bumhan Vice-President
According to Hyun, the ASWUUV will have a range of up to one month if it uses hydrogen fuel cells. The Agency for Defense Development successfully tested the ASWUUV earlier this year in June. The ROKN has not yet made a decision about which propulsion system the ASWUUV will use.
According to Hyun, the company will also begin the development of bigger hydrogen fuel cells for use in larger unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) later this year.
“It is extremely difficult to use hydrogen fuel cells underwater. Bumhan became the second company in the world, after Siemens, to master the technology required to do this, including storing liquid oxygen underwater for use on submarines, in 2018. Now we plan on incorporating the technology into multiple other platforms. The ASWUUV is around 7 m in length. We want to be able to support larger UUVs.” Hyun Khil Shin added.
Bumhan is the primary supplier for the air-independent propulsion system of the KSS-III submarine, which was deployed for the first time in August.