After 2018 South Korea plans to build 3,000-ton heavy attack submarines equipped with vertical launching systems that allow a variety of weapons, including long-range cruise missiles, to be deployed. (image : DSME)
Vertical launching system for attack subs developed
Korea has developed a vertical launching system (VLS) to be installed on 3,000-ton heavy attack submarines to be deployed after 2018, according to a shipbuilding industry source, Monday.
Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering are subcontractors for the heavy attack submarines.
It is the first time that the development of a submarine VLS in Korea has been confirmed. The Agency for Defense Development (ADD) has already developed one used aboard the 7,600-ton KDX-III Aegis destroyer.
A VLS is a modern type of missile-firing system used aboard submarines and surface vessels of several navies around the world. When installed on an attack submarine, a VLS allows a greater number and variety of weapons to be deployed in comparison to using only torpedo tubes.
Following the development of the VLS for subs, top shipbuilders in Korea and the ADD are also on track to develop an indigenous horizontal tube to launch torpedoes, cruise missiles and mines, the source said.
“The development of a vertical launching system has already been completed, while the development of a horizontal launching system is still under way,” the source told The Korea Times, asking not to be identified. “Developing the horizontal launching tube requires more sophisticated technology than the VLS development.Cheonryong long range cruise missile (photo : Chosun)
”The VLS would be used in launching long-range cruise missiles at key targets in North Korea.
The ADD has developed the 500-kilometer-range, ship-launched Cheonryong, which is a modified variant of the surface-to-surface Hyunmoo III-A ballistic missile. The missile range could be extended up to 1,000 kilometers, according to military sources.
The Cheonryong missiles are believed to have already been modified to be installed on Type-214 subs.
South Korea has successfully developed the Hyunmoo III-C surface-to-surface ballistic missile with a maximum range of 1,500 kilometers, following the deployment of the 1,000-kilometer-range Hyunmoo III-B.
With the VLS development, Korea would have an advantage in selling its submarines overseas in the future, the source added.
Currently, the South operates nine 1,200-ton, Type-209 submarines and three 1,800-ton, Type-214 submarines. They are all diesel- and electric-powered and were all built with technical cooperation from HDW of Germany.
As Germany restricts the transfer of key submarine technology, such as launching tubes, Korea would have difficulty exporting any of those locally-built submarines.
The Navy plans to deploy at least three more Type-214 submarines in the years to come.
Beginning in 2018, Seoul plans to build 3,000-ton KSS-III submarines fitted with domestically-built submarine combat systems aimed at automating target detection, tracking, threat assessment and weapons control.
The heavy attack sub will be armed with indigenous ship-to-ground cruise missiles and be capable of underwater operations for up to 50 days with an upgraded Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system.