February 23, 2021 13:16
The government on Monday approved a project to develop a light aircraft carrier by 2033 for an eye-watering W2.03 trillion (US$1=W1,113).
"It's a project to build the Korean military's first light aircraft carrier that will carry vertical takeoff and landing aircraft to respond to a wide variety of threats to security and deter provocations in waters of possible conflict," a spokesman for the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said.
But the W2.03 trillion is just the budget for the aircraft carrier, and more money will be needed to buy the planes.
The project was first announced in August 2019, but out of W10.1 billion DAPA had requested for research, only W100 million was allocated in this year's defense budget amid mounting controversy over its strategic effectiveness.
Critics say the country does not need an aircraft carrier in its waters because it has enough land bases where fighter jets can take off, and it would be better served by developing a hypersonic missile or procuring a nuclear-powered submarine.
One government official said that only W750 billion of the money spent on the massive aircraft carrier project would be enough to replace the 40-year-old rifles Army soldiers are now carrying.
Others warn that costs will spiral out of control because Korea will need to buy F-35B jets that are capable of vertical takeoff and landing, instead of F-35A ones, and the F-35B is 50 percent more expensive than the F-35A.
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