According to local media, South Korea is considering the purchase of aircraft carriers.

Reports say that one option is a twin island 70,000 ton vessel with dimensions of 298m long and 75m wide. The vessel would carry 1340 crew and 40 fixed-wing aircraft and 8 helicopters.


The second option is 40,000 tons, 238m long and 62m wide with a crew of 720 and a capacity of 20 fixed wing aircraft and 8 helicopters.

It is understood that Democratic Party Party Chairman Choi Jae-sung said in a report distributed earlier this year by the National Assembly’s National Defense Commission that these two proposals were presented in the research service carried out when the Navy finalised its plan for a large carrier.

Quoted in local media here, Choi said:

“The two proposals were reviewed, but the final decision was made with a combination of acquisition costs and acquisition periods.”

It is also understood that the aircraft carrier would likely operate the F-35.

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Harry Nelson
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Harry Nelson

I wonder if a license built QE class would be considered??

mac
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mac

Doubt it, the Koreans are too big on sovereign, indigenous designs thesedays.

They have a growing defence sector to feed.

BB85
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BB85

It would be moronic if they spent all that R&D money on an indigenous design if there is a proven off the shelf one that could be purchased for a fraction of the cost.

Pacman27
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Pacman27

1. QE is a catobar design – uk decided against it.
2. We can sell Korea the design – even offset for a couple more Tides if required and that is still a win for both countries.

So SK could get the QEC design, Britain could benefit by gaining more of a successful class of ship (or perhaps a tide version of the SSS), and everyone wins.

BB85
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BB85

When was the last time the US designed an 70,000 tn aircraft carrier?
There is even talk of them taking the QE design to build cheap air craft carriers of their own.
As others have said QE was designed to be CATOBAR and the UK government decided against it, so could easily meet Korea’s needs whatever option the go for.

Lordtemplar
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Lordtemplar

Lol the design was by Thales originally. UK has no Catobar know how, even the French get theirs from the US. Korea has a very good design and shipbuilding industry, what they lack in know how or systems they will get from the US. But keep dreaming.

Sean
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Sean

Yeah the British only invented the Catobar… The U.K. decided not to fit a catapult as although designed for one to be fitted the cost would have been too great. Either dedicated steam generators would need to have been added to power it or the buggy EMALS design the US offered would have been required. Personally I think removing a single point of failure from the design was the best option. If you depend on a catapult and it goes down for whatever reason then you’ve just lost the use of all your aircraft. With the QE design, even if… Read more »

Spyinthesky
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Spyinthesky

No need really for that patronising response, what they say is fundamentally correct whether you like it or not. Yes a Thales design originally but elements of both it and the Bae proposal were brought together for the final finished design under the leadership of Bae and that design is the intellectual property of UK institutions as was shown during discussions for the French to build their own version. Now it would be perfectly logical for SK to take the QE design as a basis for their own which would save them millions and considerable time too while giving them… Read more »

BB85
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BB85

Lord whatever he is, is a clown if he thinks a 100,000 tonne aircraft carrier has more in common than a 70,000 tonne carrier just because the 100,000 tonne carrier has emals. 1 it has nuclear propulsion so no commonality to generate electricity or fit funnels and 2 you cant just reduce the dimensions by 30% and produce the same ship. Anyway we all know it will be made in Korea it just doesn’t make any sense to spend r and d money for one or two ships when the work is already available at a fraction of the cost.… Read more »

andy reeves
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andy reeves

for sk to build their own QE derivative they’d have the luxury of tweaking the design to accommodate other layouts to their requirements and not be hamstrung by CATOBAR ISSUES

Darren
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Darren

Emails systems were first investigated and looked at and indeed started developing in the UK. I would think a mide life change to this could happen to the QE’s after their actual hull extension too. Their beam/depth to lenght ratio is very very large.

andy reeves
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andy reeves

emals has proved efficient for take off use but a recovery system has proved to be a difficulty that is yet to be resolved. a fit for the Q.E class could mean the ramp being removed.

andy reeves
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andy reeves

if they built Q .e design, the catobar issue could be addressed before building it.

Darren
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Darren

Our shipbuilding and people involded in production yet again lose with this model. We build the tried and test QE design here in the UK and that offsets the hugely expensive Tide ships built in South Korea.

Darren
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Darren

So we sell a design for 700 million quid to pay for two FSSS ships. Our designers are expensive. Perhaps we need to look at going abroad with design and building here in the UK?

andy reeves
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andy reeves

it wouldn’t be the first time south korea has built under licence, they have built numerous oliver hazard perry’s and a couple of aegis destroyers.the korean shipyard would no doubt produce the vessel faster than the poor delivery of the clyde

Callum
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Callum

It would be interesting to know if these are actual designs or just rough concepts to decide on what form a future carrier would take. If they are just concepts, the larger ship is only marginally bigger than the QEC design, which offers the potential for a licence-built version featuring a lot of our tech (the S.Koreans have already adopted the MT-30 for a class of frigates for instance).

Rob
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Rob

I can’t see ski jumps on those ships so I assume they plan to have the F35C. I’m not sure the USN even want it judging by reports. They will operate a mix of F18 and F35C on each carrier for the foreseeable future. When it comes to retiring the F18 they will most likely still operate another type alongside the F35.

Interesting that the Koreans, RN, Italians, and Japanese all plan to operate F35B or F35C only on their carriers.

Rob N
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Rob N

Why would you put a 4 gen fighter on a 5 gen carrier?

Although the QE class is officially 65,000 QE is in fact 70,600. So a similar side to the large option.

Rob
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Rob

What is a 5th gen carrier? But to answer your question, I don’t know ask the USN. I suspect they believe the F35C isn’t suited to all it needs given that they are still ordering new F18s. Perhaps it is range, that is only has one engine, or even performance vs the F18. I just said it was interesting not that I have all the answers.

John Fedup
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John Fedup

The USN decision to acquire more F-18SH was partly political (keep SH line open for pending export orders), the USN needed some EA-18G versions, and they need aircraft in greater numbers that can’t be met by F-35C production alone.

Spyinthesky
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Spyinthesky

I think you are spot on there and certainly has that political aspect. It’s certainly a numbers game too. My only added point would be that I suspect that as the F35 isn’t a true interceptor in the traditional sense the US probably would like to keep their options and flexibility open in that regard covering all options. And can do so because they can afford it, keep the options open and have carriers large enough to allow it comfortably to do so that others do not. Belt and braces I reckon and always good to have a more basic… Read more »

Watcherzero
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Watcherzero

Mission availability rate is a big factor as well, any aircraft with a stealth coating is a lot more costly and time consuming to maintain. The more advanced the aircraft the more that can go wrong.

DaveyB
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DaveyB

The US Navy have always considered the F35 as a strike aircraft, not an air dominance aircraft. When they retired the F14s they lost a significant capability with its speed, range and mostly the Phoenix missile. The F18 although good couldn’t do the same. Therefore, they are launching a program for a new air dominance aircraft. They have said they are keeping the program separate from the USAF’s requirement. They are looking for something that marries the performance of the F22 with capabilities of the F35. It’s possible this could be one of the reasons Boeing was trying to get… Read more »

Rob N
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Rob N

The problem with F22/F35 is that to be stealthy they need to limit their weapons to internal storage. This limits the number of AAW missiles compared to F18 etc. A valid solution is to use the stealth aircraft to target incoming air threats and then let the mon-stealthy aircraft shoot them at range. Unfortunately for the USN they have lost Phenix, have not got Meteor and have to depend on AMRAAM variants. The UK have a valid solution with F35 armed with Meteor. You could even use F35s in stealth configuration to target air threats for F35s further back with… Read more »

Spyinthesky
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Spyinthesky

Very interesting take. F35 and Typhoon will co exist and I guess if you can do it F35 on a Carrier has similar reason to co exist with such a fighter, only the US really has that option. Interesting to think that Boeing might see Typhoons replacement as a good reason to get involved to help it replace its F18s eventually in that Carrier based role, never considered that but would make sense after all plenty of Bae technology from the Tempest pre cursor went into the F-35.

DaveyB
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DaveyB

Boeing have in the last 10 years been outplayed by Lockheed Martin in the local fighter market. They didn’t make it to the YF22/23 competition and the X32 failed in competition with the X35. The X35 has the record for the quickest timed take-off, accelerating to supersonic and returning for a vertical landing. The X32 could barely lift off vertically. To do so Boeing cheated and removed all external doors and removed a lot of the test equipment to drop the weight. Much like the new T7A Redhawk, Boeing have used the Saab design and integrated it for USAF and… Read more »

Rokuth
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Rokuth

Technically, all the current fighter jets in Boeing’s stable were inherited from their mergers. The last time Boeing produced a fighter that entered service was in the pre-WW2 days.

The X-35 was their last attempt to get into the fight jet business.

Matt C
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Matt C

They are working on an indigenous fighter, the KFX project, so I think they would want to try for a carrier variant of it, not necessarily F-35C.

Levi Goldsteinberg
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Levi Goldsteinberg

If we weren’t bound by EU industry regs we could subsidise the price of a licensed QE carrier, ask to build part here in return for a discount price and secure the sale that way

Cam
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Cam

South Korea already has more destroyers and frigates than the UK, with new carriers they will take over the UK. Only our balistic submarines keeping us up nearish the top. And who has the bigger economy? Yeah the UK! Proves we need more escorts.

Callum
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Callum

Just comparing numbers is misleading. The ROKN is mostly a greenwater fleet, it has lots of smaller, less capable platforms compared to us. They’ve also got the manpower to make keeping older platforms in service practical. All of their frigates and submarines are less capable than ours, it’s only really destroyers where they have a clear advantage we lack (12 ships including big multirole Aegis types).

I agree though, we definitely need more escorts. At the very least, we need another 3 T31 so that we’ve completely replaced the original 16 T23s

andy reeves
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andy reeves

it is the destroyer numbers that set the u.k behind italy and france, the need for more t45’s or alternatives such as designating the ROYAL NAVY VERSION OF THE TYPE 26, AS A DESTROYER.the type 22 was almost designated as a destroyer.

Callum
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Callum

The Royal Navy has more destroyers than either the French or Italian navies, and the RNs destroyers are also all bigger and more capable in the air defence role than any of France’s or Italy’s.

There’s no need to designate the T26 a destroyer. In RN terminology, it’s an ASW frigate, as destroyers are considered larger AAW platforms.

Paul T
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Paul T

Callum – your right in numbers regards RN, French and Italian Destroyers but capability wise they’re pretty much equal seeing as they have the same AAW Weapons systems, give or take the Sampson Radar system.

andy reeves
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andy reeves

more capable? the M.O.D goes by what it says in the makers brochures than anything else

Callum
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Callum

The T45s carry the same missile armament guided by a more powerful and effective radar. Logically therefore they’re more capable in the air defence role than the Horizons.

Cam
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Cam

But just comparing numbers South Korea’s millitary manpower’s 10x bigger than the UK! It’s a dam joke! And all their naval platforms might not be better but some are like their new destroyers with 120+ VLS silos. and they have more ships and submarines than the Royal Navy, no point talking about their tanks ect because they have far far more. I wish the UK GOV will get real with our millitary, we have to be a global power the English speaking world has to be on top and I’m glad USA also thinks so. We are British we earned… Read more »

Matt C
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Matt C

The UK invested in supporting arms such as fleet support, ISR, sealift, airlift, and most importantly, readiness; whereas it is doubtful that these nations have. Recently a Finnish general declared the UK military the strongest in Europe. There’s more to military capability than raw numbers of shooty bits.

Joe16
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Joe16

I don’t disagree with your conclusion (although we need more manpower before we need more hulls in my opinion), but it’s worth bearing in mind the massive cost difference in ship building between South Korea and the UK. Those yards are subsidised by the SK government even more heavily than the UK government would, even without EU rules in place, and so they can get their hull numbers up. Couple that with cheap military aid (weapons systems) from the US, and war-footing personnel numbers, and you have a situation that is difficult for the UK to match. Not saying we… Read more »

Roders96
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Roders96

South Korean competitiveness does not depend on shipbuilding subsidies, they ended roughly 2000.

andy reeves
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andy reeves

national service get the hoodies and the knives off the streets.

andy reeves
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andy reeves

looking at fleet sizes the italian navy is almost on a par with france and the u.k the recent iranian issue has been good for the R.N. if only to highlight the fact that the royal navy is too small

Paul T
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Paul T

andy reeves – Fast forward 5-10 years the Italian Navy will have quite an impressive Surface Fleet,especially in regards Escorts.

farouk
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farouk

This is really interesting seeing as South Korea doesn’t really have much need for a carrier. (Regards its foreign policy) But if it did build one, it would gain the expertise to sell such behemoth to those who would like one, but are unable to build one.

JohnG
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Good post farouk my musings also. I can’t imagine a scanrio where they would need a QE equivalent carrier.

David Flandry
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David Flandry

I think South Korea is looking towards a future where the US is not so ready to engage North Korea.

not a tory
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not a tory

Also China will have 6 carriers on their doorstep in the next decade

andy reeves
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andy reeves

THE CHINESE EXPANSION, PROGRAMM MAY WELL CHANGE THAT. SHOULD THIS BECOME A CONFLICT, THEN THE NEED FOR CARRIER CAPABILITIES BECOMES MORE WORTH HAVING.

Cam
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Cam

The big ones not that far off the UK carrier in terms of where lifts are ect, I wonder if they’ve been looking at our carrier.

Peter Shaw
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Peter Shaw

To be honest the UK should pitch the QE design. It makes a lot of practical sense. They could re-design some elements for their own purpose but why start from scratch when you have a proven design?

Russjm
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Russjm

Democratic Party Party! Chairman Choi sounds like a bit of a hoot! Given that a large majority if not all RoK airfields are most likely suffer artillery or rocket attack within the first two days of any peninsula war a carrier seems a good choice. Even if the real reason is as i suspect most likely, as anyone who follows the area will understand, to balance the naval aviation expansion by Japan. Either way I would have thought the RoK would want full interoperability with the US and be able to deliver the maximum level of ordinance in the shortest… Read more »

andy reeves
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andy reeves

THEY WON’T BE SHORT OF ESCORTS FOR IT

Lordtemplar
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Lordtemplar

Due to it’s geographic location i am not sure this is money well spent. It’s not like Korea need to project power outside their immediate region.
They would be better served by upgrading their fairly substantial forces, they make us look a bit light. Then again we do not have a nutter up north with nukes and a giant like China building up their military

Spyinthesky
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Spyinthesky

I tend to agree, pretty pointless having an expensive fundamentally offensive carrier floating around as massed North Korean forces sweep through your country. Sounds like a political statement more than best use of their military budget. But as you say with their neighbours politics takes on a whole different role to our own and I would guess their ability to operate an asset line that with Similar American forces might be about helping the US see them as far more of a useful ally and asset than they do the Kurds as what you can offer is clearly the major… Read more »

TwinTiger
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TwinTiger

Yes – the first export customer of the F-35C most likely

Pacman27
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Pacman27

Why would we do that Mike…

Helions
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Helions

“Tic Toc” only a matter of time till Japan announces the same. It’s always been my position that the JMSDF is about a decade away from operating (an already designed) CATOBAR fleet carrier…

comment image

Cheers!

Spyinthesky
Guest
Spyinthesky

Interesting it specifies the LM2500 yes it may be a good bit cheaper but far less powerful nor is it as fuel efficient as the MT 30 which Japan and South Korea already operate so costs pretty much equalise. Particularly relavent in a carrier of this size methinks too. Two LM2500 would make the QE class somewhat underpowered I suspect.

Helions
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Helions

This is a fairly old concept image. I would not be surprised that the powerplants would be MT30 or equivalent. The Japanese won’t let the ROKs build a carrier without answering them tit for tat…

Cheers!

Cam
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Cam

Then their navy will overtake the UK by many miles.

not a tory
Guest
not a tory

The thing the JMSDF is missing is the capabilities of an RFA equivalent

andy reeves
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andy reeves

already has

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Do you want HMG to sell it?

2 are needed so one is always available, with both in use in need.

Mike
Guest
Mike

I see the French which have larger forces including more nuclear forces manage with one carrier. I also see that the last Ark Royal but one was a sole carrier for many years as were her replacement for a good many years. If the better off and more efficient French manage on one albeit a nuclear powered ship, why does the diminishing UK need two? Surely smaller flexible vessels and even drones are better suited? When the UK falls apart, will the remaining rump be able to afford these things?

James
Guest
James

And when the French one is out of action for 6 months at a time for maintenance costs?

What about when the French fall apart, will they replace the very costly one they have?

andy reeves
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andy reeves

if they have enough f 35’s they could operate their mistrals as light carriers

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

if the u.k had sufficient f 35b to operate two carriers i think both being available might be doable but without one of the carriers would be unviable

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

The issue with drones, is the limited range.

James
Guest
James

Wonder if they are still planning on converting a helo carrier to fly the F35B in the short term or that’s been scrapped just to go with the F35C.

not a tory
Guest
not a tory

It’s amazing what a small nation can afford when it’s not funding a nuclear deterrent.

The QE design seems to have hit on a real niche for medium powers.

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

especially with the u.s looking for a change from ford class sized supercarriers and a move towards smaller fleet carriers. the u.k could be years ahead of the rest in this area.

not a tory
Guest
not a tory

I bet the USMC would love one

andy reeves
Guest
andy reeves

or swap he POW for a mistral with france as they are desperate to retire the de gaulle.

not a tory
Guest
not a tory

I bet if we started building a third QE we could sell it to one of several nations (thinking Brazil, South Korea, Japan, or long shot maybe even India) within a decade

geoff
Guest
geoff

Interesting topic. A few comments-why would South Korea need a large Carrier? She can operate and project air power from land based units-certainly in terms of her military needs which lie overwhelmingly a few miles North of Seoul? Does South Korea aspire to be a world player and if so I wonder why and in fact what it really means? With regard to comparing Navy sizes, it is true that the RN has slipped compared to the likes of Japan, France and South Korea but in terms of tonnage the UK is still the 4th largest. Also-from the Specification diagrams… Read more »

Watcherzero
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Watcherzero

Its a similar reason to why India also has an aircraft carrier program, the strategic recognition that a large neighbour (Chinese airforce in both cases, but also North Korean missiles in South Koreas case) could devastate airfields in the first days of a conflict and they lack neighbouring allied nations to fall back and redeploy their aircraft too out of harms reach of enemy strikes.

geoff
Guest
geoff

Had not considered that-thanks

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Numbers, while important, are also deceptive.

How many of France’s escort fleet are 1st rate modern ships and how many are little more than Corvettes?

I may be wrong and years out of date to be fair, but I recall many of their ships were old or for patrolling their oversees possessions.

We could easily up gun our River B2s and say they are part of the frigate fleet. But they’re not.

PurpleRonnie
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PurpleRonnie

Interesting to see that nearly all nations building carriers are going with the twin islands of the QE class

Willful Murder
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Willful Murder

What other nations are building twin island carriers?

Albion
Guest
Albion

What ever design SK decides, they will probably build it in a year!

Albion
Guest
Albion

whatever design SK chooses, they will probably have it built in a year!

Mr Bell
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Mr Bell

Here’s an idea we build a QE for them or better 2 of them, for CATOBAR fitted out and they give us 5 Sejoin the Great class heavy destroyers. Exactly what the RN needs, some serious firepower and BMD capable warships

Paul T
Guest
Paul T

Mr Bell – SK’s Sejong The Great class Destroyers seem to me to be the best iteration of the Arleigh Burke platform,with 3 in service and another 3 building they offer massive capability.As good as the T45 appears to be its pretty much a defensive asset – if you really wanted to take the fight to the enemy the S-T-G class offers so much more,and at a price cheaper than the T45 too.

andy reeves
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andy reeves

twin islands? looks like we’ve started a trend

Joseph R
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Joseph R

Great Britain did not coin the 2-island carrier, America did – back in the 1920’s cue USS Lexington and USS Saratoga. Just sayin..

Joseph R
Guest
Joseph R

Great Britain did not invent the twin-island carrier, America did – back in the 1920’s. Cue USS Lexington and USS Saratoga.. Just sayin..

Ian
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Ian

It strikes me as probable that this is another instance of a senior decision-maker not fully understanding the scale of the resource commitment implied by their proposal. The recent German proposal that the EU could somehow operate an aircraft carrier as a collective asset is another example, but a better one (in terms of how thoroughly it’s since been studied) is the time-back in the early 80s, when the Canadians were seriously considering buying nuclear powered attack submarines. The political difficulties were eventually overcome, but in the end the idea was abandoned as the Canadians came to understand the sheer… Read more »

Darren
Guest
Darren

Most media reports do give indication to a mide sized 40,000 ton aircraft carrier. But, the twin island ships does fit into the Queen Elizabeth design in conventional take off and landing form. Gone is the 400 ton or so, right on the end of the bow ski jump, replaced by I assume lighter but over a longer distance catapults, over a proper more elegant long bow with rounded down rear deck which give the lenght that this South Korean bigger aircraft idea is.