The Korean Times reports that South Korea is looking to improve its Coast Guard, which currently consists of 15 helicopters and just one patrol plane. To that end, a contract has been signed with Indonesia’s Dirgantara for 4 CN-235-100 aircraft, at a cost of about $92 million. The CN-235-110 uses GE’s CT7-9C engines, but lacks features like the pressurized cabins, aerodynamic improvements, and range extensions found on subsequent versions.
The CN-235 turboprop is a joint venture between EADS-CASA of Spain and Indonesia’s IPTN, and either partner can take orders to produce them. It operates in a light transport role for a number of countries, including South Korea. A maritime patrol version has also been created. It been ordered by Indonesia, Spain, Brunei, Colombia, Ireland, Thailand, Turkey, and the UAE; and a modified version serves as the US Coast Guard’s new HC-144A Ocean Sentry. The CN-235 has a cruising radius of over 1,000 nautical miles, and the MP variant’s systems can detect and track more than 100 targets, up to 200 nautical miles away, in a wide variety of weather conditions.
Coast Guard missions often include border patrol, and these aircraft will have some value as surveillance platforms. In practice, however, that mission is too dangerous for South Korea’s Coast Guard to execute at sea. South Korea’s navy is tasked with handling incursions from North Korea, and an ongoing history of minor incidents and warning shots flared into significant naval skirmishes in 1999 and 2002. On the water, South Korea’s Coast Guard is more concerned with activities like illegal fishing by Chinese vessels, who murdered a Coast Guard official in September 2008. South Korea’s Coast Guard also provides a “softer” way of asserting sovereignty over the disputed Liancourt Rocks (Korean: Dokdo/ Japanese: Takeshima).