Lack of Budget, South Korea's Ambition to Build a CVX Aircraft Carrier Threatened to Fail

Lack of Budget, South Korea's Ambition to Build a CVX Aircraft Carrier Threatened to Fail
South Korea's Ambition to Build a CVX Aircraft Carrier Threatened to Fail

Seoul - South Korea's ambition to build a sophisticated aircraft carrier is in danger of failing due to budget problems. Given North Korea's escalating nuclear threat, it appears that South Korea has not made the CVX carrier program a priority in the short term.

Of course this will interfere with South Korea's plans to operate the F-35B stealth fighter. However, it could be good news for its submarine fleet, including for its Dosan Ahn Changho-class attack submarine capable of launching ballistic missiles.

Information about the CVX carrier program has not been funded in 2023, according to Naval News, following the release of South Korea's defense budget proposal. South Korea's total defense budget for 2023 is about 57.1 trillion won, equivalent to $42.5 billion. This amount is an increase of 4.6 percent compared to the 2022 budget, amounting to 54.6 trillion won, or approximately USD40.6 billion.

Of the total in 2023, 17 trillion won, or about $12.7 billion, was allocated to new acquisition programs, an increase of two percent. The rest is for daily military operational costs, including salaries and maintenance.

From this budget posture, the CVX program does not appear to be a priority for South Korea's defense. In addition to the increasing threat of North Korea's nuclear threat, there may also be an increasingly ambitious scope of the aircraft carrier design itself.

Previously, South Korea's LPX-II program envisioned an expanded amphibious assault ship design that would be able to accommodate F-35B vertical takeoff and landing (STOVL) jets, just like the Navy's design. US.

Recently, the CVX project resulted in designs for very large aircraft carriers, including twin command center (Island) superstructures and a ski jump take-off line, both features found in the Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth class.

South Korean CVX Aircraft Carrier Capabilities

The carrier-specific design, from Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), is 850 feet (259 meters) long, 200 feet (61 meters) wide, has a full payload displacement of about 45,000 tons, and can operate up to about 20 F-fighter aircraft. 35B.

Other notable features of the HHI design include an additional deck area at the rear for operating a small rotary wing drone and a round deck adapted for deploying unmanned surface vehicles (USV) and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV).

Another CVX proposal, from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), is somewhat more conventional, with no takeoff base in the bow but still with a dual command center superstructure. The warship will be 860 feet (262 meters) long, 150 feet (45.7 meters) wide, and have a displacement of about 45,000 tons.

The ship will have the capacity for 16 F-35B aircraft and six medium helicopters simultaneously. Both CVX designs are significantly larger than the Republic of Korea Navy's current Dokdo-class landing platform (LPH) helicopter, which is 652 feet long, 101 feet wide and weighs 19,500 tons. While the two CVX designs are expected to be able to operate the F-35B aircraft on a STOVL basis, it is a sign that Seoul may be considering a larger and more powerful aircraft carrier. It may even be equipped with a sloped deck, take-off path, and arrester kit.

This would enable short takeoff but arrest recovery (STOBAR) operations, possibly with a naval version of the new generation KF-21 fighter, or a larger type of drone. Of course operating an aircraft carrier, regardless of its type, requires a large budget.

For example, the British Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, annual operations total $112 million. While its manufacture cost USD 2.85 billion. Previously, DSME officials said the design contract for the CVX carrier program could be awarded by 2022 and there were hopes that South Korea could have an operator ready for service by the early 2030s. However, everything now looks increasingly impossible.

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