South Korea unveils new warship concepts

South Korean shipbuilders have taken the opportunity at the 2023 edition of the MADEX International Maritime Defense Industry Exhibition to showcase a range of innovative new surface warfare combatant designs.

Hanwha Ocean, formerly Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), highlighted several new concepts, including the Joint Strike Ship concept aimed at delivering decapitation attacks against North Korean leadership under Seoul’s Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) programme.

KMPR is one of three approaches under South Korea’s “Three Axis” strategy that aims to deter Pyongyang from employing its growing arsenal of nuclear weapons, and retaliate using a variety of precision-guided munitions such as tactical ballistic missiles and bunker-buster bombs against high-value infrastructure and personnel, including Kim Jong-un.

Hanwha Ocean also revealed its proposal for the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN)’s anticipated command mothership programme which will deploy a range of unmanned aerial, surface, and underwater vehicles (UAVs, USVs, and UUVs) for maritime patrol, strike operations, and mine countermeasures operations.

Based on the company’s new 16,000 tonne Ghost Commander concept featuring stacked flight decks, the proposed 5,000 tonne design offered the RoKN is understood to adopt a more conventional approach with an aviation deck that can accommodate a naval helicopter and up to 24 catapult-launched fixed-wing UAVs as well as rotary-wing UAVs. The vessel can also launch and recover USVs and UUVs from either side of the hull as well as its stern.

Meanwhile, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) displayed a refined version of its HCX-21 trimaran concept called the HCX-23. The latest 130-metre-long design features a planned displacement of 6,000 tonnes and a proposed weapons fit comprising a 48-cell vertical launching system (VLS) on its foredeck, which can be fitted with a mix of anti-surface and surface-to-air missiles. A high-energy laser is also proposed.

According to HHI, the HCX-23 will also function as a mothership for unmanned systems, with a stern flight deck for quadcopter UAVs as well as a USV/UUV bay.

HHI also used to event to promote other concepts, included refined versions of its Ulsan-class Batch III frigate, next-generation KDDX-class destroyer, Arsenal Ship, and its CVX-class aircraft carrier featuring a catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) design.

by Jr Ng