10 Jul 2023
Joint Strike Ship is Korea’s Arsenal Ship project
Eunhyuk Cha story with additional reporting by Xavier Vavasseur
The model of the Joint Strike Ship unveiled by Hanwha Ocean (previously known as DSME) featured 100 missiles and was one of the highlight of the MADEX show this year.
As previously reported by Naval News, Hanwha Ocean was selected as the preferred negotiator for the Joint Strike Ship concept back in April 2023. The model unveiled at MADEX was a big deal because it showed what the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy and naval industry’s own interpretation of the “Arsenal Ship” concept, a concept originating to the U.S. Navy but which never saw the light of day.
According to a company representative, Hanwha Ocean’s Joint Strike ship is based on the hull form of the KDDX design. Unlike legacy Arsenal Ship designs which were criticized for being big, slow, easy targets, the Joint Strike Ship will be able to defend itself from enemy threats thanks to an impressive array of weapons and sensors: Two CIWS-II from LIG Nex 1 at the bow and stern, providing point defense against incoming short-range missiles and aircraft. In the area where a KDDX would have a 5-inch main gun, the Joint Strike Ship features 48 KVLS-I cells known to contain K-SAAM to provide medium-range air defense. The ship also has an integrated mast with AESA radar for detection and fire control of its weapon systems. It is the same I-MAST system by Hanwha Systems that will be fitted aboard the KDDX. Last but not least, the model shows two MASS chaff decoy launchers (against missiles) and two anti-torpedo decoy launchers fitted on top of the superstructure, aft.
32 KVLS-II cells are located behind the integrated mast, amidship. KVLS-II are a larger variant of the vertical launching system design to accommodate larger missiles. Based on information released back in 2020 regarding the Korean Arsenal Ship project, these VLS are expected to either hold Haesung-II (해성-II) cruise missile and/or the new naval versions of the L-SAM that just started its development.
As the Joint Strike Ship is aimed as a deterrence and retaliation against North Korean nuclear and missile threat, it is to be loaded with diverse options of ship to surface attack methods including cruise missiles and ballistic missiles.
The Joint Strike Ship scale model also featured 15 “vertical tubes” to launch ballistic missiles. These are speculated to be for the Hyunmoo-IV-2, a surface ship version of the Hyunmoo-IV.
Finally, at the stern, there are two erectable launch systems that are large enough to potentially accommodate the Hyunmoo-V (현무-V) ballistic missile. Currently in testing, this ballistic missile is capable of delivering a 1-ton warhead with a range of 3,000 km (300 km with a 8 to 9 tons warhead). The launchers are placed on the helicopter deck of the ship. A Hanwha Ocean engineer confirmed to Naval News that with such launchers, the Joint Strike Ship would need a supply vessel to load the ballistic missiles at sea.
Since the project is still in the early stages of conceptual design and undergoing negotiations with the ROK Navy, specific information about the ballistic missiles could not be disclosed during MADEX. Nevertheless, Hanwha Ocean representatives have shared with Naval News that the Required Operational Capability (ROC) will be completed by December of this year, and detailed information will be made available by mid-2024. Commissioning of the ship with the ROK Navy is expected for 2030.
The basic specifications of the Joint Strike Ship conceptual model are as follows:
As we previously covered, the original Arsenal Ship plan by the U.S. Navy was to build a ship carrying hundreds of tomahawk cruise missiles for large scale ground attack missions instead as an alternative to aircraft carrier, achieving efficient operations at a lower cost. The cost-effectiveness of the Arsenal Ship was maximized through the utilization of stealth technology and a double hull design, ensuring its enhanced survivability against enemy attacks.
During the previous government, the original proposal included a Joint Strike Ship with a tonnage of approximately 5,000 tons and 80 vertical launchers. However, due to a shift in priorities towards introducing an aircraft carrier, the priority of the Joint Strike Ship was subsequently delayed.
In the current government, there is greater emphasis on the Korean “Three-Axis System,” which consists of
As a result, the priority of the Joint Strike Ship has increased, along with its size, the number of missiles it carries, and its overall capabilities. This transforms the Joint Strike Ship into more than just a missile carrier, but rather into a warship that can provide additional roles and enhance the capabilities of the fleet. The design aims to make it a platform capable of accommodating almost all the long-range cruise and ballistic missiles that Korea has developed, as well as high-performance missiles that will be developed in the future.
Even though the increased cost and performance seems acceptable, it is believed that the challenge still lies in enhancing its survivability at a minimal cost is crucial. The Joint Strike Ship needs defensive measures against enemy submarines. Since the conceptual model is based on the Hanwha’s conceptual design of the KDDX it could be outfitted with Torpedo Acoustic Counter Measure (TACM) that is used in the current FFX Batch-2 / Daegu Class and Anti-Torpedo-Torpedo that will provide hard-kill against enemy attacks.
Watch our video coverage of the Joint Strike Ship during MADEX 2023:
10 Jul 2023