Korea LPH/CVX Amphibious Assult Ship/Light Carrier program

Test7

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Amid the growing naval capabilities of neighbouring countries, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) have requested that construction plans for the Republic of Korea Navy’s (RoKN’s) next-generation light aircraft carrier be brought forward.

A CGI showing the conceptual design of the RoKN’s future light aircraft carrier. (RoKN)

A CGI showing the conceptual design of the RoKN’s future light aircraft carrier. (RoKN)

Officials from the Ministry of National Defense (MND) in Seoul told Janes on 8 October that the JCS want the carrier’s basic design to be included in the MND’s Defense Mid-Term Plan covering the period from 2021–25, meaning that design work could start as early as next year.

According to RoKN data, completion of the basic design will take about three years, with a further seven years required for the detailed design and construction, meaning that the carrier could be ready for delivery as early as 2031. Depending on how long the sea trials period takes, the carrier could be operational between one and two years earlier than initially planned.

The 30,000–35,000 tonne carrier, which is being acquired under the LPX-II project, is expected to support operations of helicopters and short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

This means that the MND will also try to speed up the introduction of STOVL fighter aircraft, with MND officials telling Janes that the procurement process for the fighters is expected to begin “in earnest” next year. The RoKN is believed to have an initial requirement for about 20 such aircraft.

While the exact type of STOVL aircraft has yet to be determined, the Yonhap News Agency reported in August that it is likely to be the F-35B, adding that it is the only model that meets the RoKN’s requirement.

 

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Technology Transfer Offer from London to Korea

Technology Transfer Offer from London to Korea28 October, 2020​



The UK will offer the Republic of Korea a technology transfer for the LPX-II aircraft carrier project. British naval industry is gearing up to propose technology transfer for the ROK Navy’s LPX-II light aircraft carrier program, as South Korea lacks necessary experience with aircraft carrier design.

If Korea accepts the offer of the Babcock shipyard, London will provide technical information support for aircraft carrier design and integration of the F35B.

The Babcock shipyard is currently part of the KSS-III submarine program developed for the Korean Navy.

The conceptual design of the LPX-II is expected to be completed later this year. The first platform expected to be delivered to the navy in the early 2030s.



Technology Transfer Offer from London to Korea


 

Saithan

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Does SK really need an AC even a light one ? Wouldn't a Juan Carlos type not be more relevant ?

I am not aware of SK being present anywhere else, but in their own frontlines with NK.

Also considering the free lessons the world has received from TB2 (which they should pay for instead of praising) I would say SK could develop 1 mio. Harop-like loitering ammo in no time and back it up with 1000 UCAV fully automated even controlled by their E-sport elite.
 

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ROK-Navy-LPX-II-light-aircraft-carrier.jpg

On 30 December 2020, details for South Korea's LPX-II light aircraft carrier were finalized and the necessary budget was officially allocated in the 2020~2024 Mid-Term Defense Plan​


The information which was first reported by local media JoongAng Ilbo means that after about a year of preliminary planning and debate, the program is now officially underway. This ship is expected to enter service with the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy in 2030.


As we previously reported, LPX-II will prioritize aircraft operation over amphibious operation and will have not have a well deck. It will also not feature ski-jump and will have two islands. Primary aircraft will be F-35B Lightning II and its sensor and weapon suite will be all indigenous. The ballistic missile defense (BMD) capable multi function radar (MFR) being developed for Korea’s nextgen destroyer (KDDX) will reportedly equip LPX-II.


Twin island design​

The latest design of LPX-II was also unveiled on the occasion, showing a twin island arrangement which is likely the reflection of international cooperation.


In terms of foreign partners, US & UK government and firms are said to be involved. The US will transfer technology for reinforced deck as part of F-35B purchase while the UK has been providing technical and doctrinal advice. As we reported in October 2020, the UK Government and Babcock International, which led the Royal Navy Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier design process, « are said to be actively engaging with their South Korean counterparts ». This likely explains why the latest design of LPX-II shows two islands that look similar to those of the Royal Navy aircraft carriers. For the record, Babcock was already involved in the ROK Navy’s KSS-III large attack submarine program.


About LPX-II​

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Early conceptual rendering of LPX-II light aircraft carrier program.

South Korean shipyard Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) was awarded a contract for the LPX-II conceptual design in October last year. The LPX-II project aims to build a new versatile large-deck landing ship for short take-off and vertical landing fighter jets.


HHI is expected to finish the conceptual design by the second half of 2020, with commissioning with Republic of Korea Navy planned for the early 2030s. The vessel, displacing around 40,000 tons (30,000 tons initially but recent DAPA references to the project mention the higher figure) would be based on the existing Dokdo-class amphibious assault ship (LPX-I project) but without a well deck according to the latest information. It would be able to accommodate around 20 F-35B STOVL fighters.


Future-of-ROK-Navy.jpg


Artist impression showing the future of the ROK Navy: LPX-II , ROKAF F-35B, escorted by KSS III submarines, KDX III Batch II and the future KDDX destroyers.

The LPX-II vessel will also deploy future Marine Attack Helicopters of the ROK Marine Corps, for which there is an upcoming competition between local company KAI (with the Surion MAH), Bell Helicopters (with the AH-1Z) and Boeing (with the AH-64 Apache). All three companies were showcasing their solutions at ADEX 2019.

 

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1622100295665.png

Artist impression of CVX, the ROK Navy light aircraft carrier project.

Juho Lee 27 May 2021

Here is everything you need to know about the CVX project ahead of MADEX 2021

The booth for CV eXperimental (CVX), the project name for South Korea’s first aircraft carrier, at the MADEX International Maritime Defense Industry Exhibition this year will constitute 30% of the entire display area, according to Yonhap News. This decision is not just for pomp and circumstance. The Ministry of National Defense (MND) faces an uphill battle to convince the National Assembly and the public of the usefulness of CVX. Its request of ₩101 billion ($90 million) in funds for research into CVX for the 2021 fiscal year was denied by the National Defense Committee which only allocated ₩1 billion ($890,000) for this purpose.

The resistance may be hard to understand at first. Many nations consider aircraft carriers to be a point of pride, a symbol of their great power status. South Korea, however, faces very immediate security challenges, and many question whether an aircraft carrier, let alone a light aircraft carrier, can meet those challenges.

CVX history, dimensions, and capabilities​

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Concept image of ROK Navy’s future LPX-II displayed on HHI stand during MADEX 2019

The CVX program evolved from the Landing Platform eXperimental (LPX) program which produced the largest ships operated by the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) so far, the Dokdo class amphibious assault ships. Preliminary plans, dubbed LPX-II, envisioned an amphibious assault ship like vessel that would also be capable of operating fighter aircraft. However, in Aug. 2020, the ROKN officially announced plans to acquire a fully-fledged aircraft carrier and the term CVX was introduced in Feb. 2021. The ROKN hopes CVX will be ready for operations by 2033.

The CVX is expected to cost ₩2.3 trillion ($2 billion) to construct and around ₩50 billion ($45 million) per year to maintain. It will be 265 m in length, 43 m in width and have a light and maximum displacement of around 30,000 tons and 40,000 tons respectively. The ship will be capable of operating 16 F-35B fighters as well as eight helicopters. It will also feature a high degree of automation and have a complement of 440 crew, excluding the air element. The carrier will have two islands, similar to the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth (QE) class, but lacks a ski-jump.

CVX will be equipped with the AESA radar being designed by Hanwha for the “integrated mast” on the KDDX destroyer. The S band radar will have a range of 300 km for long range detection of aircraft, while the X band radar will be used for short range detection. The carrier will also feature LIG Nex1’s torpedo acoustic countermeasure, Haegung (K-SAAM) surface to air missile system, and close in weapon systems (CIWS) for point defence.

ROK Navy’s vision for CVX​

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ROK Navy artist impression show the future CSG around CVX

The CVX will be the flagship of the ROKN and will be the centerpiece of its blue-water fleet. The ROKN expects the ship to protect South Korea’s lines of communications, provide deterrence against North Korea, and aid humanitarian relief operations. The CVX is also a response to Korea’s great power neighbors; both China and Japan plan on acquiring multiple aircraft carriers. It is hoped that CVX will deter both powers.

Moreover, the CVX will also be capable of serving as a landing helicopter dock, deploying forces ashore during landing operations. It will augment South Korea’s amphibious assault fleet which consists of two Dokdo class amphibious assault ships, four Go Jun Bong class LSTs, and four Cheon Wang Bong class LSTs.

Some even speculate that CVX will serve as a stepping stone for a larger carrier in the future. It is hoped that once the ROKN has gained enough operational experience from operating the CVX, it will become capable of operating supercarriers.

Lastly, proponents of the program claim that CVX will provide South Korea with a conventional second strike capability. They claim that Korean airfields are vulnerable to a first strike by North Korean forces; for them the nightmare scenario is a barrage of missiles crippling the entire Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) before its fighters can even take-off. Operating the F-35B from CVX would preclude this possibility.

Criticism​

No defence procurement program has generated as much controversy domestically in recent years as the CVX program. Dissenting voices from the National Assembly, academia, and the rest of civil society at large have lambasted the program as a waste of resources.

Does South Korea need an aircraft carrier?​

The first group of critics cast doubt on whether South Korea needs an aircraft carrier at all. Hong Joon-pyo, a veteran member of the National Assembly who is currently on the National Defence Committee, is a vocal proponent of the first view. He is quoted as saying “all a physically small country, like ours, needs is land based airfields. Our money would be better spent on building nuclear submarines instead,” to the National Defence Committee last November.

Many in academia support this claim. The crux of the argument is that an aircraft carrier is “overkill” when it comes to dealing with North Korea, but not sufficient to counter the fleets of neighboring great powers. Critics claim that the threat of a neutralizing first strike on South Korean airfields by North Korea is exaggerated and that a single aircraft carrier would not be enough to deter China or Japan which plans on building multiple aircraft carriers. Operating nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs), on the other hand, would allow constant shadowing of North Korean ballistic missile submarines (SSB) currently in development, as well as providing a strong undersea deterrent against aggression from other neighbors.

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Critics also claim that investing in submarines is the more rational choice given the geography of the Korean peninsula which is surrounded by thousands of small islands. According to them, South Korea does not have any overseas territories and, thus, does not need to project power far from its shores.

Some worried that the acquisition of CVX and the 20 F-35Bs that would operate from the ship would interfere with ROKAF’s acquisition of F-35As. The ROKAF had purchased 40 F-35As and planned to procure an additional 20 aircraft of the same type.

These fears were attenuated when the MND announced that ROKAF plans would not be affected. According to Joongang Ilbo, the ROKAF will operate both the F-35A and F-35B for a total of 80 aircraft, similar to how the Royal Air Force operates aircraft from Royal Navy carriers. This view was echoed by a ROKN spokesperson on April 21. However, critics still point out that the procurement of the second batch of F-35As may be delayed due to the priority given to F-35B acquisition.

CATOBAR vs STOVL?​

The second group of critics acknowledges the utility of aircraft carriers, but demands the procurement of one capable of catapult assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR). They claim that the current design, which is tailored for short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL), limits the CVX’s capabilities.

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To begin with, the F-35B cannot carry the 2000 lb joint direct attack ammunition internally due to its smaller internal weapons bay. This means the ship will not be able to target hardened North Korean bunkers and missile silos if conflict breaks out. A CATOBAR carrier would allow for the operation of the F-35C which has a greater internal payload and greater range.

A STOVL carrier would also not be able to operate fixed-wing early warning aircraft, such as the E-2D Hawkeye. This worries critics who claim that better situational awareness will be paramount if South Korean forces are to overcome the numerical superiority of neighbouring great powers in a potential conflict. They claim that without it, CVX would be a veritable sitting duck against larger and more numerous Chinese and Japanese carriers. The situation is made worse by the fact that the ROKN does not yet even plan to operate early warning helicopters from its CVX.

Lastly, operating the F-35B on a light aircraft carrier is very inefficient. The F-35B needs to jettison much of its payload before it can land vertically. To counter this, the Royal Navy developed the shipborne rolling vertical landing (SRVL) technique which allows the F-35B to land with its payload. However, SRVL technique needs an 80 meters long runway to be performed safely. Critics claim this will make it difficult for the CVX to simultaneously launch and recover aircraft, lowering sortie rates significantly.

Despite this backlash, the MND remains determined to carry on with the project. It has launched a fierce hearts and minds campaign to convince the public of the utility of CVX. However, many still remain doubtful. Whether the MND will alter CVX’s design to appease critics remains to be seen.

British involvement in CVX ?​

According to reports by British media, Babcok Marine, BAE systems, and Thales have already begun to reach out to South Korean companies regarding cooperation on CVX. Moreover, some speculate HMS Queen Elizabeth’s port visit to Busan in the second half of 2021 will serve as an overture from Britain regarding cooperation on CVX, according to Yonhap news. “There is a possibility Britain will share knowledge and operational experience regarding carrier operations when its fleet visits Busan,” a South Korean MND spokesperson said on April 27.

One possible area of cooperation is heat-resistant materials, which will be especially important for operating the F-35B. The ROKN has little expertise in this regard given that neither of its Dokdo class ships are capable of operating fixed-wing aircraft.

In addition to this, some hope that British experience with early-warning helicopters will help the ROKN develop its own operational doctrine that utilizes maritime early-warning aircraft. Critics still point out, however, that early-warning helicopters are less effective then fixed wing aircraft.

Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) KF-21 for the CVX?​

KAI revealed that it is aiming to start development of a navalized variant of the KF-21 in 2033 as part of the KF-21 block 2 development program on April 2. The MND is also keeping all options on the table for now. “There is a possibility that a domestically designed fighter will operate from the light aircraft carrier if it can meet required operational capabilities, and if the necessary technology and production facilities are secured before the aircraft carrier is completed,” said a ministry spokesperson on April 21.

At this point, it is unclear what a navalized KF-21 will look like and how it will operate. Some speculate that KAI is developing a STOVL variant of the KF-21. This would require a major redesign of the airframe and is likely to be extremely expensive. Others think that KAI is aiming to design a short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) variant. This would require fewer changes to the airframe; resistance to saltwater, stronger landing gear, a landing hook, and larger wings are some new features that may have to be added.

However, the carrier in its current configuration is not suitable for STOBAR operations. According to Konkuk University Professor, Lee Jaewoo, the flight deck will have to be lengthened by around 20 m for STOBAR operations to become feasible. Moreover, the ship will have to be capable of maintaining a speed of 30 knots, much higher than the maximum speed of the Dokdo class which is 23 knots.

In addition to this, doubts linger as to whether these plans will be affordable. “A large budget will be required if a new navalized domestic fighter is to be developed,” said an MND spokesperson on April 21. The ROKN is already cash strapped as it pursues other expensive programs, such as the 6,000 ton arsenal ship, and may not be able to secure funds for such an ambitious change.

 

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South Korea Commissions Second Dokdo-class Amphibious Ship ROKS Marado (LPH-6112)

The Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN)’s second Dokdo-class Amphibious Assault Ship, ROKS Marado (LPH-6112, Landing Platform Helicopter), was commissioned today, June 28th 2021. ROKS Marado was built based on data and operational experience that the Navy has acquired from the previous ROKS Dokdo (LPH-6111) since 2007.​

Daehan Lee 28 Jun 2021

Daehan Lee story with additional reporting by Xavier Vavasseur.

ROKS Marado has a light displacement of 14,800 tons (19,000 tons full load displacement). It has a length of 200 meters, a beam of 31 meters and a draft of 6.6 meters. The ship has a crew complement of 330 sailors and is capable of carrying 720 marines, 6 MBTs, 7 KAAVs, 2 LCACs, and 7 to 12 helicopters such as the MUH-1s and recently selected MAH helicopters.

It is armed with 4 KVLS cells that launch a total of 16 K-SAAM (surface-to-air missiles) Sea Bow, and 2 Phalanx Block 1Bs close-in weapon systems (CIWS). It also features K-Dagaie NG decoy launching systems with new generation decoys (SEALEM and SEALIR) by Lacroix. Key components and equipment for propellers and elevator have also been localized. By carrying out reinforcement work for the side of Marado, the ship is now capable to bear the load of 60 tons (previously 25 tons). This is likely linked to the ability of Marado to accommodate the V-22 Osprey (unlike Dokdo).

K-Dagaie-NG-ROKS-Marado-ROK-Navy-1024x537.jpg
The K-Dagaie NG decoy launching system aboard ROKS Marado.

Compared to ROKS Dokdo, ROKS Marado benefits from significantly improved anti-air and flight systems. ROKS Marado flight deck can accommodate the V-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft. The flight control (FLYCO) tower’s design was changed and its location moved from the front to the rear of the island. Marado features an improved anti-air radar too: It is the fixed EL/M-2248 MF-STAR AESA multifunction surveillance radar produced by Israeli company Elta Systems, which substituted the previous SMART-L multibeam radar by Thales.

In terms of weapon systems, Marado adopted Raytheon’s Phalanx instead of 30mm Goalkeeper fitted aboard Dokdo. It changed the location of the CIWS in the stern, placing it on the upper side. Stark differences come from its localized combat system, such as the LIG Nex1’s SPS-550K 3D air and surface surveillance radar which is also used by Incheon and Daegu-class frigates, not the previous MW-08. Also, Infrared Ray Search and Target (IRST) equipment, SAQ-600K, has been placed to alternate Vampir-MB optronic sight. Defensive guided missiles to intercept anti-ship missiles, Sea Bow (K-SAAM), can be launched from the Korean Vertical Launching System (KVLS) instead of the Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM). As the Navy did with Marado’s FLYCO tower, KVLS was also moved to the rear of the superstructure. Improvement of the combat system doubled the number of maximum engagement targets.

South Korea Commissions Second Dokdo-class Amphibious Ship ROKS Marado (LPH-6112)
The new systems aboard Marado (compared to Dokdo). Image via ROK Armed Forces facebook page.

The keel laying ceremony for Marado was held at Hanjin Heavy Industries in Busan, on April 28th in 2017, and the launching ceremony took place on May 14th in 2018. Sea trial started in 2019, followed by the installation of the CIWS 20mm Phalanx and the MF-STAR anti-air radar in the first half of 2020. Marado was fully built in July 2020. The performance of the Israeli radar was proved until April in 2021 with support of aircrafts from the Navy and Air Force. Takeoff and landing tests of amphibious helicopters (MUH-1 and UH-60) were successfully completed in May this year, along with the final coat of paint on the ship.

South Korea Commissions Second Dokdo-class Amphibious Ship ROKS Marado (LPH-6112)
Commissioning ceremony of ROKS Marado. ROK Navy picture.

The ROKN will officially deploy LPH Marado after a series of Initial Operational Capability (IOC) tests for its crews from July to December this year. Its home port will be Jinhae. In 2022, the ROKN possessing two Amphibious Assault Ships (Dokdo and Marado) will consider deploying them to the annual training, called MIDCRU (Midshipman Cruising). Additionally, local media reported that the Navy is considering using it as a host ship to welcome the British Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth that will visit the ROK Fleet Command in Busan in August and September 2021.

 

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The Ministry of National Defense wants to build a 30,000-ton light aircraft carrier through domestic research and development by 2033

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Still from computer graphic video released Monday by the Republic of Korea Navy

The Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) released a computer graphic video Monday showing the simulated operations and movements of an aircraft carrier battle group consisting of a light aircraft carrier, Aegis destroyer, and medium-sized submarines.




The Ministry of National Defense (MND) previously announced its vision for designing and building a 30,000-ton light aircraft carrier through domestic research and development by 2033.




Lasting for six minutes, the video shows the takeoff and landing of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) fighter aircraft after the carrier sets sail, as well as fighter strikes against land-based targets and scenes of the battle group on the move.

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Still from computer graphic video released Monday by the Republic of Korea Navy

Rather than traveling alone, aircraft carriers are accompanied by destroyers, submarines, and maritime patrol aircraft in battle groups, giving them strike, defense, and surveillance capabilities.




In addition to the Aegis destroyer, new combat support ships, and medium-sized submarines, which the ROKN already possesses, and the next-generation destroyer that it plans to introduce, the video also features the Air Force’s E-737 airborne early warning and control aircraft and VTOL fighter aircraft.




The ROKN explained that it “produced the video to help the public understand about and enlist support for the light aircraft carrier that represents the future of our joint forces.” The video was made available for viewing on YouTube and the ROKN website.

 

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This thread is dedicated to the flat decked ships of the Korean Navy. These are currently two ships of the Dokdo-class LPH, the LPH 6111 and LPH 6112.

The CVX program was originally started as a follow on program of the LPH 6111 class and was called the LPH-II. The LPH-II was supposed to have similar size and amphibious operations capability compared to the America-class LHA, including its fixed wing aircraft operations capability. Following the suggestions to convert this program to a full-blown carrier program, the LPH-II was later changed to CVX program.
 

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