Military Review

South Korea will build an aircraft carrier instead of the UDC


The proposed look of the LPX-II multipurpose landing craft from HHI. Graphics

South Korea intends to develop and build a new ship with the ability to carry aviation groups. Last year it was reported that it would be a versatile landing craft, and updated plans were posted a few days ago. Now the South Korean Navy wants to get a light aircraft carrier with an air group in the form of foreign-made fighters.

Universal amphibious assault

The plans to build a promising UDC were first publicly announced in July 2019.The command of the Republic of Korea is concerned about the growth in the number and combat capabilities of the navies of neighboring countries and intends to take symmetrical measures. One of them is the development and construction of a promising large landing ship. Corresponding work started under the LPX-II program (the LPH-II index is also used).

According to the first reports, the UDC LPX-II will have to have a displacement of approx. 30 thousand tons, which is twice the displacement of the existing ships of the "Tokto" type. On the deck and in the hangar, 16 Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II fighters were required. The holds must accommodate 3 thousand seats for the Marine Corps and up to 20 main tanks or other technique.

According to the plans of the command, the coming years will be spent on competitive design with the subsequent development of a technical project. Construction of the LPX-II will begin in the late twenties. The ship will be commissioned by the Navy at the beginning of the next decade.

LPX-II as an aircraft carrier. RK Navy graphics

As it became known later, the possibility of building light and medium aircraft carriers with various features was considered. However, the simultaneous work on aircraft carriers and UDC was considered impossible, and the landing direction received priority. It was proposed to solve the issue of building aircraft carriers in the future. However, certain forces in the South Korean command continued to insist on the need for the priority construction of aircraft carriers.

Concept change

In mid-October, the Navy chose a preliminary design for further development. The design contract was awarded to Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI). The main requirements and conditions of the contract coincide with the previously announced plans. However, the other day it became known about the recent revision of the key provisions of the entire program.

The project for the development of the armed forces for 2021-25 was published.According to this document, the goal of the LPX-II project is no longer the construction of the UDC. Now the Navy wants to get a light aircraft carrier - with the same aircraft and in the same quantity, but without cargo decks and landing rooms. Thus, the supporters of the construction of aircraft carriers still won the dispute, albeit with a noticeable delay.

However, it is not entirely clear what the victory of the aircraft carrier direction is connected with. The idea of ​​building a multipurpose ship with an amphibious assault force in the hold and aircraft on deck has a number of advantages over the concept of a "clean" aircraft carrier. At the same time, an aircraft-carrying ship without landing is also not devoid of advantages, which, most likely, became decisive.

It is curious that the change in the class of the future ship does not affect some of the basic requirements for it. So, the displacement, dimensions and aviation group are planned to remain at the same level proposed for the UDC. The terms of development, construction and commissioning were not revised either - the aircraft carrier will enter service in 10-12 years.

UDC "Tokto" at the joint exercises of the Navy of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the United States, 2010. Photo by US Navy

In early August, it became known about the start of work in the context of the aviation group. Navy specialists will have to determine the optimal number of aircraft on board. After the completion of these studies, negotiations on the purchase of equipment will begin. As before, the LPX-II is expected to carry approx. 20 F-35B aircraft.

Technical features

The new document provides the basic requirements for the future aircraft carrier. In addition, the approximate appearance of such a ship has been published. As the design progresses, it may change, but the general provisions are clear already now.

A promising light aircraft carrier should have a standard displacement of 30 thousand tons and a total displacement of up to 40 thousand tons. This will make it the largest ship in the South Korean Navy. It is necessary to provide high running characteristics and the ability to work in the ocean area. The type and parameters of the power plant have not been specified - perhaps they have not yet been determined.

The published image shows the ship with a large rectangular flight deck and a superstructure to starboard. There is no springboard, but a catapult can be used. It should be noted that last year's aircraft carrier designs provided for an angular deck not found on the LPX-II.

The aircraft carrier of a new type is being created for short takeoff and vertical landing fighters, as well as for helicopters. The basis of the aviation group will be no more than 20-25 F-35B fighters. Helicopters for various purposes will also be used. A hangar deck with an onboard aircraft lift is provided for storing equipment.

Helicopter landing on the Dokdo deck. Photo Wikimedia Commons

The composition of electronic equipment and weapons is not named. Also, the required crew size and other features of the ship remain unknown. It is expected that the LPX-II will have broad operational capabilities - but it has not yet been possible to assess them with sufficient accuracy.

Aircraft carrier prospects

At present, the capabilities of the Korean Navy to use carrier-based aircraft are very limited. Many ships of different types are capable of carrying only one helicopter. Only two UDCs of the Dokto project have more opportunities - up to 10-15 helicopters. Aircraft carriers and carrier-based aircraft for various purposes are absent.

For further development, they consider it necessary to build both UDC and "clean" aircraft carriers, but this is impossible. Therefore, last year they decided to develop the amphibious fleet, temporarily abandoning the aircraft carrier. However, just a year later, the plans were revised - now HHI is developing an aircraft carrier without the possibility of landing.

It should be noted that the construction of an aircraft carrier does not negate the need to develop the amphibious direction. UDC "Tokto" was accepted into the Navy in 2007, and the second ship of this type, "Marado", began service just a few weeks ago. By the time the future LPX-II appears, the age of the head UDC will exceed 20 years, and it will be necessary to resolve the issue of its replacement. It could have been the LPX-II ship in its original configuration if the Navy had not changed their plans.

South Korean UDC takes LCAC boat into the dock. Photo by US Navy

If the current plans remain in effect, then in the early thirties the South Korean Navy will receive its first aircraft carrier. It will be a light ship with a limited air group and corresponding combat capabilities, but the appearance of a fundamentally new combat unit will have a positive effect on the potential fleet as a whole.

The fleet will be armed with three full-fledged aircraft carriers. Two will be able to work only with helicopters and land troops, and the third will take on board carrier-based fighters. Despite the limited number of ships and aircraft, such a grouping will seriously increase the potential of the Navy.

The promising aircraft carrier LPX-II will be able to work in the same groups with other surface ships and carry out a wide range of tasks to combat surface and coastal targets. It is also possible to work jointly with landing ships of various types; primarily to support the landing force.

Variability of plans

At the moment, the LPX-II project is at the stage of shaping the overall appearance of the future ship, taking into account the updated customer requirements. In the near future, technical design will begin, construction will start in the second half of the decade, and in 10-12 years the fleet will receive its first aircraft carrier.

However, all this will happen within the specified time frame only if the Navy does not change its requirements again. Just a year ago, it was planned to build a landing ship, and now a light aircraft carrier will be made instead. Time will tell whether these plans will be kept or they will be revised again. Moreover, any scenario does not threaten the South Korean Navy. In any case, they will be able to get a modern ship of the required class.
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  1. mark1
    mark1 18 August 2020 05: 22
    I can hardly imagine why South Korea needs an aircraft carrier (well, if only as an auxiliary force for the American fleet), even a hefty UDC seems redundant for personal use by the South Caucasus.
    1. Civil
      Civil 18 August 2020 08: 27
      The puppet government of occupied South Korea is making plans to seize the island of stability and prosperity of the DPRK, led by Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong-un, the aircraft carrier of the weapon of aggression.
      1. mark1
        mark1 18 August 2020 08: 38
        Quote: Civil
        aircraft carrier is a weapon of aggression.

        And American aircraft carriers will not be enough for the needs of aggression? All the same, the crowd will attack.
        1. Civil
          Civil 18 August 2020 08: 42
          Quote: mark1
          Quote: Civil
          aircraft carrier is a weapon of aggression.

          Are there not enough American aircraft carriers for aggression? All the same, the crowd will attack.

          New Star, Marshal of the DPRK Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong-Un will respond to the attempt to capture the last part of the free Korean people into American slavery with all nuclear power.
          1. mark1
            mark1 18 August 2020 08: 52
            Quote: Civil
            Comrade Kim Jong-un will respond to the attempt to capture the last part of the free Korean people into American slavery with all nuclear power.

            AND! Well then, everything is clear - this is something like Noah's ark, the main thing is to have time to sail further. Far-sighted!
    2. donavi49
      donavi49 18 August 2020 08: 46
      Why? Quite useful to yourself. Protect freedom of navigation. It is possible to participate in any operations against the tyranny of the rich in natural resources, no longer through the UN, as it is now, but for a% of quotas and recovery after victory.

      And they keep peacekeepers all over the world, not like Pakistanis who are really everywhere, but they strive. They climb into the very depths of Africa.
      1. mark1
        mark1 18 August 2020 08: 56
        Well, yes, of course - a Far Eastern tiger. But the hat is still not according to Senka - for growth.
        1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
          Kote Pan Kokhanka 18 August 2020 11: 15
          During the second half of the last century, the South Koreans, together with the Australians, managed to take part in almost all military conflicts initiated by the United States. So the degree of their participation will be trite to a new level !!!
        2. Alex777
          Alex777 9 October 2020 21: 15
          Well, yes, of course - a Far Eastern tiger.

          Colleagues! It's obvious, though. bully
          The Japanese this year began converting their helicopter destroyers into aircraft carriers. The Koreans could not help but react. hi
  2. Lord_Bran
    Lord_Bran 18 August 2020 08: 04
    Create a project for the sake of one aircraft carrier? Expensively. Or will they then send it for export?
  3. Doccor18
    Doccor18 18 August 2020 08: 27
    The command of the Republic of Korea is concerned about the growth in the number and combat capabilities of the navies of neighboring countries and intends to take symmetrical measures.

    A neighboring country, to be precise. China ... The capabilities of the other neighbors have not fundamentally changed for 30 years. The Americans gave the go-ahead to their Asian vassals to arm themselves to the teeth. China has aircraft carriers, which means that Japan and Korea can also build them. True, they are going to build semi-semi-aircraft carriers. The displacement is the same as the average, and the air group is the same as that of the light. And the cost is just wild. Let's see what happens ...
    1. donavi49
      donavi49 18 August 2020 08: 41
      Well, they think that 24 F-35s will completely grind = ~ 36 Su-33s of Chinese design.

      If anything, the Chinese have a real av with catapults and 60+ aircraft in construction. Both entered - like Kuzya, with a group that is funny for the size.

      If anything, the vassals will take the kids, and the hegemon will take care of the main core.
      1. Doccor18
        Doccor18 18 August 2020 09: 00
        Well, they think that 24 F-35s will completely grind = ~ 36 Su-33s of Chinese design.

        It depends on what kind of filling the Chinese Su-33 will have. If with our engines ... then not everything is so obvious. The Chinese make electronics no worse than the American one. And the declared performance characteristics of the Chinese zur are also impressive. Although all the points can be set only by a real battle ...
      2. antivirus
        antivirus 18 August 2020 11: 33
        about sizes
        The holds should accommodate 3 thousand seats for the marines and up to 20 main tanks or other equipment.

        we have the same for 1 ton of marines - the Koreans are 3 times smaller?
        1. donavi49
          donavi49 18 August 2020 12: 28
          There is a big difference between the standard and peak group.

          Established - we take it and go there for two or three weeks.
          Peak is the maximum amount you can cram in and transport quickly.

          For example, Mistral has 420-450 staff. And the peak is under a thousand.
          Or Cavour (an aircraft carrier with the ability to carry troops and military equipment, including Arietas - but unloading to the port) - a full-time group of 80-90 Marines, can take an additional +380 people up to the battalion.
          Or a new Trieste - 400 standard, 600 reinforced, 1100 maximum.
  4. Cyril G ...
    Cyril G ... 18 August 2020 08: 38
    Are they building an aircraft carrier for Comrade Kim?
  5. Kostadinov
    Kostadinov 18 August 2020 10: 50
    Let them build as many aircraft carriers as possible. Better yet, let them make only aircraft carriers.
    1. donavi49
      donavi49 18 August 2020 12: 51
      They have a gigantic shipbuilding program.

      Let me remind you that South Korea still maintains the status of the fleet with the most heavily armed destroyer in the world, 144 missiles of the main types (excluding small and x4 ECCM missiles in the cell) were crammed into it, including the cruise ones on Hyunmoo-3 at 1500 km. And this is not a single prodigy, but a serial product. 3 pieces are already in the composition, 3 according to a slightly improved project (KDX-III batch 2 + 4 meters and new electronics, so far everything is clear) are being built since 2019.

      They have already approved a new, lighter destroyer KDDX and have contracted 6 units under a new defense plan. The tender was won by Hyundai. VPU for 64 missiles. New IJIS completely developed in Korea.

      These ships will replace the old KDX-1 and the first sub-series 2 from the early 00s.

      They are already building a series of 8 new corvettes (and the head one has been commissioned) - which have a quiet electric propulsion system. That is, they can actively search for modern submarines in motion. What no ship of the Russian Navy before commissioning 20386 can, for example.

      They have a bunch of submarines with VNEU and the ability to bang the CD at 1000 km. And they even sell them.

      For the money, they have adopted a new 5 year program where they gather by 2025 to heat up to 60 billion dollars a year. It's bigger than France. This is at the level of the Saudis and Russia.
      1. Hypatius
        Hypatius 19 August 2020 00: 10
        This is at the level of the Saudis and Russia.
        They can afford it, if in 2020 the GDP of South Korea has already exceeded the GDP of the Russian Federation, this is with almost 3 times less population. It's better not to remember about raw materials. Here, no PPP can justify our stability.
  6. mvg
    mvg 18 August 2020 11: 06
    The idea of ​​building a multipurpose ship with an amphibious assault force in the hold and aircraft on deck has a number of advantages over the concept of a "clean" aircraft carrier

    First: I can't read the author's next nonsense. Nothing is known, but I will write. Though I don't understand nifiga.
    Second: UDC with 3000 infantry, 20 tanks and 16 fighter-bombers, this is, of course, a defensive weapon, because the South Caucasus is a colonial country, it is vital for it to defend its interests in Africa and Antarctica.
    But the country's most powerful navy, without an air umbrella, will protect itself from the DPRK mosquito fleet.
    PS: Author, it would be better to write about what you know at least minimally. That is, about nothing. Or just copy FULLY articles from professional sites, marked with copy-paste. Council.
    1. Avior
      Avior 18 August 2020 21: 24
      The aircraft carrier is a universal weapon.
      If, for example, the South Korean submarine fleet blocks the exit from the yellow sea, or even controls traffic in the South China, then the aircraft carrier will be very useful in order to drive away the enemy's ASW.
      1. mvg
        mvg 18 August 2020 21: 35
        the aircraft carrier will be very useful

        I am sarcastic about the umbrella. The hedgehog understood that Korea did not need UDC, there were no territorial disputes with anyone. The fleet, almost the most powerful in the region. PLO they have air, plus destroyers with Asrok. Better Berkov. But an aircraft carrier with an F-35 umbrella is always nice. But the catapult is needed. The state is not poor, it can afford everything. Yes, and will fit for export.
        The strongest shipbuilding in the region (civil). I watched videos, really liked it
        1. Avior
          Avior 18 August 2020 21: 38
          I suspect there is a big difference in operating costs.
          They save, they personally will have enough without a catapult.
          And it will be easier to sell such.
          As for the udk, I remember the landing in the last Korean war, which significantly changed the situation.
          1. mvg
            mvg 18 August 2020 21: 45
            And it will be easier to sell such

            I do not know. AWACS has not been canceled. And you can launch something else, not just VTOL aircraft. They also dream of their KF-X.
            I do not know about the cost of operation, but it is more expensive for sure, it is necessary to make a power plant with a margin of steam. In the Russian Federation would be like that. But, along the way, we will buy Kitty Hawk from China, in the sense of Type 003.
            1. Avior
              Avior 18 August 2020 21: 55
              For most, cost of ownership matters
  7. CastroRuiz
    CastroRuiz 18 August 2020 19: 59
    Est F 35B, mozhno vmesto UDK malie i srednie avianosci stroit.
  8. Local from the Volga
    Local from the Volga 18 August 2020 22: 55
    F35 in 12, or even 15 years ... well, well ... good luck to the narrow-eyed!
  9. NordUral
    NordUral 19 August 2020 19: 48
    And why the hell is this a trough you, South Koreans, have nowhere else to put your money?
    1. Pandiurin
      Pandiurin 22 August 2020 01: 07
      They will build it for themselves, then rivet it for sale.

      It's just not clear that even a small aircraft carrier desires a nuclear installation, yuk do not have such competencies.