US Navy Explores South Korean Bigung for Drone Defense

US Navy Explores South Korean Bigung for Drone Defense

The U.S. Navy is evaluating South Korea’s Poniard system, known locally as Bigung, as a potential solution to counter drone swarm threats. LIG Nex 1, a prominent South Korean defense contractor, is in discussions with the U.S. government to finalize an export deal for the Bigung 70mm laser-guided anti-ship rocket system. This collaboration could mark the first integration of a South Korean weaponry system into the U.S. Navy’s arsenal, driven by the need for cost-effective defenses against agile threats following past incidents like the USS Cole attack in 2000.

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Cost-Effective Alternative to Traditional Missiles

The Bigung system offers a low-cost guided imaging rocket (LOGIR) at a fraction of the cost of traditional anti-ship missiles like Harpoon and Hellfire. Priced at around $30,000 per unit, compared to millions for other missiles, Bigung provides a cost-effective solution without compromising on range, reaching up to eight kilometers. This affordability and capability make it a specialized solution for countering smaller, agile threats that may not be effectively addressed by more expensive options.

Advancements and Export Potential

LIG Nex 1 has been actively participating in U.S. government-led foreign comparative testing (FCT) exercises for Bigung missiles since 2023, with successful testing in April 2020. With two FCTs remaining in 2024, there’s optimism that Bigung missiles will meet U.S. Navy standards, leading to final negotiations. If adopted by the U.S. Navy, South Korea’s defense industry anticipates further export opportunities, potentially including the Shingung short-range man-portable air defense system (KP-SAM).

Key Features and Capabilities

Developed by the Agency for Defense Development and LIG Nex1, the Bigung system is designed to engage multiple fast-moving maritime targets simultaneously. It boasts a fire and forget capability, a range of 8 km, and can carry 36 rockets in two separate launchers. Integrated into a 6×6 Kia KM250 military truck, the system is equipped with target detection and launch control systems, operating effectively as a standalone defense system.

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