Oct 28, 2013
South Korea Envisions Light Aircraft Carrier similar to Spanish Navy 'Juan Carlos I', to buy retired S-3 'Viking'
The South Korean Navy believes it can deploy two light aircraft carriers by 2036 and expand its blue-water force to cope with the rapid naval buildups of China and Japan, according to a Navy source.
The service has been exploring ways of securing light aircraft carriers based on an interim feasibility study.
The South Korea Navy envisions three phases:
■The first is to equip the second ship of the Dokdo-class landing platform helicopter ship (LPH) with a ski ramp to operate short-range or vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.
The flight surface of the landing ship is already sprayed with urethane, which can withstand the heat created by the aircraft during operations.
Dokdo, with the addition of a ski ramp, could be deployed before 2019, according to the report, which suggests the Navy procure used VTOL jets from the US, UK and Spain if needed.
■Second, the Navy could build an amphibious assault ship, similar to the Spanish Navy’s Juan Carlos, before 2019.
■Finally, the service aims to build two 30,000-ton light aircraft carriers between 2028 and 2036, the report said. The carrier is to have specifications similar to the Italian aircraft carrier Cavour, which can support about 30 aircraft.
China commissioned its first aircraft carrier last year, with three more carriers planned. Japan, whose Navy is classed as a self-defense force, has controversially unveiled a 20,000-ton helicopter destroyer akin to a small aircraft carrier.
More Aegis Ships and Jets
During the National Assembly last week, the Navy unveiled mid- to long-term procurement plans to further strengthen its naval power.
The service plans to commission three more 7,600-ton KDX-III Aegis destroyers by 2023 to develop a strategic mobile fleet. The service has three KDX-III destroyers fitted with Lockheed Martin-built SPY-1D radar capable of tracking incoming ballistic missiles and enemy aircraft.
The Navy also puts a priority on acquiring reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft. In particular, the service laid out plans to buy the Lockheed S-3 Vikings retired from front-fleet service aboard aircraft carriers by the US Navy in January 2009.
The service will purchase 18 S-3 jets and modify them into a new configuration meeting the Navy’s operational requirements. If adopted, it will be the first fixed-wing jet patrol aircraft operated by the South Korean Navy, which flies 16 P-3CK turboprop patrol aircraft.
In January, AgustaWestland won a $560 million contract to supply the South Korean Navy with six AW159 Lynx Wildcat helicopters equipped with an active dipping sonar for anti-submarine role.