Daehan Lee story with additional reporting by Xavier Vavasseur.
This story was updated with quotes provided by Babcock.
CV eXperimental (CVX), is the project name for South Korea’s first aircraft carrier which is set to be capable of carrying STOVL (short take off, vertical landing) fighter jets.
CEO, Korean Shipbuilding and Offshore Engineering (KSOE), the holding company of HHI (Mr. Ka Sam-hyun), Headquarters Director of Naval & Special Ship Business Unit (Mr. Nam Sang-hoon), Babcock Group’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer (Mr. John Howie) attended the ceremony with presence of the British Ambassador to South Korea (Mr. Simon Smith) at Babcock Korea branch office in Busan, on September 1. Thanks to the partnership with the British defense company, HHI could exchange technical expertise in future defense industry and maritime technologies.
“The MoU with Babcock develops the relationship between a leading aerospace, defence and security company and the number one shipyard in the world. Through this MoU, we will establish a stable foundation to integrate cutting edge technology into the Republic of Korea’s first light Aircraft Carrier build. Furthermore, the capability of both companies will help to grow future technology opportunities in the global market.”
Ka Sam-hyun, CEO, Korean Shipbuilding and Offshore Engineering (KSOE), the holding company of HHI
“As a lead partner within the Aircraft Carrier Alliance that designed, built and delivered the Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers for the UK, we are delighted to be able to sign this Memorandum of Understanding with HHI. Babcock has the proven capabilities to deliver large scale complex programmes and by affirming our already strong relationship with Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s largest shipbuilder, our collaborative and complementary skills and expertise can deliver a cutting edge sovereign Aircraft Carrier capability to the Republic of Korea.
Through our growing in-country business, continued long-term investment in our facility in Busan and collaboration with key partners both in Korea and internationally, Babcock is committed to supporting Korean industry in delivering the CVX Aircraft Carrier Programme for the Republic of Korea. We look forward to continuing to work closely with all stakeholders and partners involved in this effort.”
John Howie, Babcock Group’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer
“I welcome this Memorandum of Understanding between, Babcock International Group, KSOE and HHI. It is another excellent example of the strong ties and growing industrial cooperation between the UK and the Republic of Korea, that is so beneficial for both countries. Babcock is representative of the thriving British naval sector, which the UK can offer Korea. Working with KSOE and HHI – one of the world’s largest shipyards, makes a perfect partnership for what will I’m sure be a fantastic and prosperous venture.”
Simon Smith, British Ambassador to the Republic of Korea
The signing comes as the Royal Navy carrier strike group with aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth conducted a combined exercise with the ROK Navy, in Korean waters.
Previously, HHI and Babcock cooperated for the first step called conceptualization, and now they are officially able to have a joint CVX business in order to construct an actual size of the Korean aircraft carrier. It is known that the partnership aims to win the government contract and to integrate key technologies of both sides to build the ship.
HHI recently revealed a mockup of its proposed CVX design during MADEX 2021 in Busan, on June 2021, next to the booth of Babcock International. HHI’s carrier design is characterized by its ski jump deck and the expanded size of the flight deck compared to the previous one, thus allegedly improved flight operational capabilities significantly, which is the most important strategic aspect of an aircraft carrier. The design suggested by HHI was acclaimed by the military communities that such capabilities would be maximized.
For the record, HHI’s competitor for the CVX project, DSME, signed a similar alliance with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri during MADEX 2021.
Naval News interviewed HHI’s Director of Naval & Special Ship Business Unit, Mr. Nam Sang-hoon, during MADEX 2021: