National Assembly member Shin Won-sik was quoted as saying:
“Light aircraft carriers are unnecessary in our security environment. The light carrier gives us no substantive advantage in terms of military strategy and operations; the carrier will be nothing more than a ‘money-eating hippopotamus’.”
Nevertheless, the KRW 7.2 billion (around USD 6.1 million) requested by the government for CVX development was approved after heated debates. KRW 6.2 billion (around USD 5.2 million) was allocated for preliminary design of CVX, KRW 0.85 billion (around USD 0.72 million) for aircraft-related expenses, and a further KRW 0.99 billion (around USD 0.84 million) for other CVX-related expenses.
CVX is a contentious issue in South Korea; the ROKN had launched a fierce public relations campaign to convince the public and the National Assembly of the utility of the program. For now, this campaign seems to have been successful. The ROKN plans to proceed with the project as scheduled, beginning the preliminary design phase next year with the ultimate goal of making the carrier operational by 2033.
The government had initially requested KRW 55.3 trillion (around USD 46.7 billion) for the defence budget in 2022. Despite gaining approval for CVX, funding for acquisition of new platforms was cut by KRW 644.5 billion (around USD 544 million). Several other ROKN programs have also been affected. The budget for PKX-B-II, a light patrol ship, and the special warfare operations support ship was cut by KRW 1.2 billion (USD 1 million) and KRW 2.24 billion (USD 1.9 million) respectively.
Naval News will continue reporting on this issue as details emerge.