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South Korea aiming to develop ‘core technologies' for light aircraft carrier by 2024

South Korean officials and defence researchers have held their first meeting to discuss the development of “core technologies” for the Republic of Korea Navy’s (RoKN’s) next-generation light aircraft carrier, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on 27 October.

The meeting was “the first step towards developing the core technologies for the design and construction of the light aircraft carrier,” said DAPA, adding that a total of seven institutions and companies, including the Agency for Defense Development, Pusan National University and LIG Nex1, will take part in the development process, which is expected to be completed by 2024.

A CGI showing the conceptual design of the RoKN’s future light aircraft carrier. (RoKN)

A CGI showing the conceptual design of the RoKN’s future light aircraft carrier. (RoKN)

As an example of core technologies, DAPA cited the planned development of coating materials to protect the flight deck of the 40,000-tonne carrier, which is expected to support operations of short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft, such as the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

The latest developments come after South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) requested that construction plans for the carrier, which is being acquired under the LPX-II project, be brought forward amid the growing naval capabilities of neighbouring countries.

Officials from the Ministry of National Defense (MND) in Seoul told Janes on 8 October that the JCS want the carrier’s basic design to be included in the MND’s Defense Mid-Term Plan covering the period from 2021–25, meaning that design work could start as early as next year.

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