Up to three "Joint Firepower Ships" could be built. They'll each carry over 80 ballistic missiles of a new type.
DSME was selected as the preferred negotiations partner for the conceptual design of the Joint Firepower Ship.
South Korea’s plans for an Arsenal Ship first emerged in August 2019 at the same time as the CVX aircraft carrier project (then known as LPX-II project). However, virtually no information on the arsenal ship was published ever since, to the point where its funding was a question mark as CVX took center stage earlier this year. This was until the fall of 2021 and a ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff announcement.
The ROK Navy plans to finalize the ship’s concept design, including the size, shape, missile capacity, and ROC (Required Operational Capability), by the end of this year. If the project’s feasibility is determined in the subsequent design stage, construction will proceed.
However, there has been conjecture about whether the navy should acquire the Joint Firepower Ship, which is relatively vulnerable to enemy attacks, difficult to defend, and easily detectable by the enemy compared to submarines.
Despite this, according to a government official interviewed by local media outlet SBS, the Joint Firepower Ship’s basic design and construction plan will be included in next year’s mid-term defense plan, and the results will be produced within five years.
The ROK Navy plans to secure three of these ships by the late 2020s, with the aim of carrying over 80 missiles each, capable of conducting a preemptive strike on North Korea’s military facilities inland in the event of an imminent missile attack.
New missile for the Joint Firepower Ship
In addition, during the 152nd meeting of the Defense Acquisition Program Promotion Committee, DAPA announced plans to invest 600 billion won (about 467 million USD) between 2024 and 2036 to develop a new Ship to Surface Ballistic Missile. DAPA explained that the new missile differs from the previously developed cruise missiles “Haeryong” 해룡 (Tactical Surface Launch Missile TSML / Sea Dragon by LIG Nex1 which is based on the C-Star anti-ship missile by the same company).
DAPA expects that the new missile will demonstrate deterrence capabilities against North Korean nuclear and missile threats, once fitted on the ROK Navy’s latest Aegis destroyer, KDDX, and Joint Firepower Ship.
Overall, the ROK military believes that the Navy’s Joint Firepower Ship, in conjunction with the Army’s Hyunmoo surface-to-surface missiles and the Air Force’s Taurus air-to-surface missiles, can establish a comprehensive kill chain and enhance South Korea’s military capabilities against the threat posed by North Korea.