The Koreaherald report that, an aircraft carrier will strengthen South Korea’s naval power at a relatively affordable price amid controversy surrounding its 2 trillion-won ($1.8 billion) project to build the first aircraft carrier by 2033. Republic of Korea Armed Forces needs the carrier because its air bases will be Pyongyang’s priority for attack should war break out. In that scenario, an aircraft carrier would supplement the South Korea’s crippled air power, adding the seagoing air base will have a better chance of survival from hostile fire at sea.
The Republic of Korea Navy’s carrier aspirations have encountered no shortage of criticism from pundits and analysts, both foreign and domestic. Critics have said a carrier battle group will not be able to help project air power because it will lack a sufficient number of advanced destroyers, attack submarines and frigates to protect the carrier. The official downplayed the concern, saying the Navy maintains enough escort ships and that it is planning to introduce next-generation warships by mid-2030s that have radar-evading stealth properties.
In its Navy Vision 2045 plan, launched in 2018, the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) announced that it would develop a light aircraft carrier (CVX) capable of fielding a wing of F-35B short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft. The CVX, a twin island flat-top that can carry roughly 20 fixed-wing aircraft, will be at the heart of the ROKN’s plans for a strategic mobile fleet for blue water operations, improving its ability to project air power far from South Korean shores. The costs would be spread out over the next decade so the Navy would not face fiscal constraints.
The Republic of Korea Navy said the aircraft carrier will not be nuclear-powered, though it said it will review that option after 2045. . A mobile fleet based around the CVX would be capable of carrying out missions far from Korean shores to better secure these SLOCs. This fleet would be especially useful if it were integrated into a coalition effort, working alongside other capable fleets to maintain a free and open maritime commons. The very presence of this capability will help better deter adversaries from targeting South Korea’s maritime interests.