As part of the MND’s mid-term defense plan released last week, 290.5 trillion won (US$239.06 billion) will be spent on South Korea’s national defense from 2020 through 2024 (a 7.1% annual increase).
According to the MND, the new plan is need to counter the threat posed by North Korea, strengthen South Korean forces around the Korean Peninsula and gain new critical military capabilities.
Those capabilities will be achieved via new programs:
- Non-kinetic strike weapons (EMP)
- Counter-stealth radar
- Aircraft carrier (amphibious ship capable of deploying F-35B)
- Arsenal ship armed with dozens of land attack missiles
ROK Navy LPX-II Aircraft Carrier
Conceptual development of the amphibious ship (that would act as an aircraft carrier) is set to begin next year, with commissioning with Republic of Korea Navy expected for the early 2030s. The vessel, displacing around 30,000 tons would be based on the existing Dokdo-class amphibious assault ship and would be able to accommodate around 20 F-35B STOVL fighters.
ROK Navy Arsenal Ship
According to daily newspaper The Hankyoreh, the arsenal ship will likely be modeled on the locally produced KDX-II destroyer. It will be loaded with a large number of precision-guided weapons, including ship-to-ground missiles, for hitting ground targets. It’s expected to begin its mission in the late 2020s.
An arsenal ship is a concept of a floating missile platform capable of carrying and launching large numbers (in the hundred) of cruise missiles via vertical launch system.
ROK Navy KDX III Batch II and KSS III Batch II
The MND’s mid-term defense plan also mentions of ongoing ROK Navy programs such as the KDX III Batch II destroyer and the KSS III Batch II large conventional submarine.
Based on the existing Sejong the Great-class (known as KDX III program the new KDX III Batch II AEGIS destroyers will feature several improvements including anti-ballistic missile capability with Raytheon’s SM-3 interceptors. The KDX-III Batch II will be fitted with SM-2 as well and, possibly, the new SM-6 “multi-mission missile” capable of long-range Fleet Air Defense, Sea-Based Terminal defense, and Anti-Surface Warfare.
The DSME-built submarine ‘Dosan Ahn Chang-ho‘ started its seat trials from Opko shipyard on June 10, 2019. With the KSS III program, South Korea has entered the elite club of the few countries able to independently design and build submarines, especially large ones (over 3,000 tons). The KSS-III Batch 1 submarine has a length of 83.5 meters, a width of 9.6 meters, and a draft of 7.7 meters. Its maximum submerged speed is 20 knots, and the cruising range at economic speed is 10,000 nautical miles. The crew consists of 50 sailors.
In March 2019, the construction of the KSS-III Batch II project for the RoK Navy was approved. Compared to the first batch, KSS III Batch II submarine are expected to have a longer hull (bringing displacement approx. from 3000t to 4000t), 10x VLS tubes (up from 6x), a greater level of South Korea systems and Lithium Ion batteries and High-Temperature Superconductor (HTS) motor technology for integrated full electric propulsion system