According to reports, the South Korean Navy’s new amphibious assault ship project is called “LPH-II”, with a displacement of 30,000 tons, almost twice that of the previously built “Dokdo” class amphibious assault ship, and the largest warship of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. The “Izumo” class helicopter frigate is larger. The ship will be able to carry 16 F-35B fighters, 3,000 Marines and 20 armored vehicles.
The South Korean Navy currently has two “Dokdo” class amphibious assault ships, namely “Dokdo” (LPH-6111) and “Maro Island” (LPH-6112). The “Dokdo” class amphibious assault commander is 199 meters long, 31 meters wide, with a standard displacement of 14,300 tons and a full-load displacement of 18,800 tons. It can carry 10 helicopters and two air-cushion landing ships. However, according to previous reports, if the F-35B fighter is to be deployed at the “Dokdo” level, its deck must be modified to withstand the high temperatures and shocks caused by the take-off and landing of the aircraft. In addition, the “Dokdo” class has limited tonnage and a small hangar, which makes it possible to carry up to six F-35B fighters without a helicopter, which is very limited in combat power. . Therefore, these two factors are likely to be part of the reason for the launch of the new amphibious assault ship in South Korea.
Earlier, South Korea purchased 40 F-35A fighters for its Air Force for $6.75 billion in 2014, and another 20 will be purchased as part of the medium-term military construction plan. According to sources, with the launch of the new amphibious assault ship project, the South Korean military is considering purchasing another 20 F-35B fighters. The source said that a research institute funded by the state of South Korea is conducting a pilot study on the purchase of F-35B, which will be released in September. The study focused on two options: replacing the F-35A with the F-35B and purchasing an additional 20 F-35s.
A senior official of the Korean Military Association said that the “LPH-II” project has been included in a long-term military construction plan. Once the preliminary study is completed within a few years, the construction plan will be included in the medium-term procurement list. An analyst at the Korea National Institute of Strategic Research said that this is the first light aircraft carrier-class ship project launched by South Korea based on the military construction plan. It is also an important step to enhance the ability of the South Korean navy to resist potential threats.