South Korea Submarine Import and Export Behavior

Imports

South Korea completed its first submarine acquisition project in 2009 and named it the KSS-1. Initially, the program entailed the purchase of twelve German Type 209/1200 submarines, but this number was later reduced to nine. The Type 209/1200 tailored to South Korean specifications is named the Jang Bogo-class, and the first unit was laid down in 1987 at Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) in Kiel, Germany. Subsequent submarines were delivered in kit form and assembled at Daewoo Heavy Industries Corporation in South Korea. [1]

South Korea's second submarine acquisition project, the KSS-2, began in 1999 after being postponed due to military budget cuts stemming from the 1998 South Korean economic crisis. [2] The project involves the acquisition of nine Type 214 submarines with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems. The first three units were built between 2002 and 2009 at the Hyundai Heavy Industries Corporation shipyards, with, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) constructing some of the remaining units at Okpo. [3] DSME launched the sixth Type 214 submarine in May 2015. [4] Similar to the construction arrangement governing the Type 209/1200 submarines, HDW supplied blueprints, material, and technological components, as well as technological support. [5] Furthermore, HDW and the German Navy provided a two-and-a-half year training course, covering basic submarine operations on attack and diving simulators and within actual vessels, as well as tactics and evasion training. [6]

According to media reports, HDW competed with six other shipyards for the design and construction of the 1,500-2,200 ton submarines. [7] Another design given serious consideration was the Russian Project 636M (NATO name Kilo) class submarine, equipped with an AIP system, which was offered to South Korea as part of Russia's weapons-for-debt program. Similar to HDW's plan, the first submarine was to be built at the Admiralty Shipyard in St. Petersburg, Russia, with subsequent units constructed in South Korea. However, cost and logistical considerations, superior technology, and concerns about interoperability with other weapons systems led to the selection of the German submarines. [8]

Following the KSS-2 submarine project, South Korea is developing nine indigenously designed 3,000-ton submarines through the KSS-3 program. Development of the first KSS-3 submarine began in November 2014. [9] The plans include an air turbine pump and programmable firing valve launch system, which will enable the vessels to more closely meet the launch requirements of a weapon. [10] The submarines will have the capacity to launch cruise missiles with a range as extensive as 1,500 km, which encompasses strategic areas of North Korea. [11]

Exports

South Korea's continued domestic design endeavors and confidence in its ability to construct submarines indicate a shift towards an indigenous design and construction capacity. This was confirmed by South Korean officials, who stated that the nine KSS-3 submarines are to be designed and constructed using domestic technology, including torpedoes, countermeasure systems, sonar arrays, and combat systems. [12] An increased focus on domestic production coincides with South Korea becoming an independent exporter of submarines. [13]

South Korea’s first steps toward becoming an exporter have included cooperation with Indonesia, as South Korea is overhauling Jakarta’s existing submarines and selling it newly built vessels. In 2003, South Korea and Indonesia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on defense sector cooperation. Aside from upgrading Indonesian military equipment, South Korea also agreed to replace engines on Indonesia's Type 209/1300 submarines. [14] A refit of Indonesia's Cakra Type 209 vessel was subsequently carried out at the Daewoo Shipyard between 2004 and 2005, and Daewoo was awarded a contract to overhaul Indonesia's second Type 209 boat, the Nanggala, which was completed in February 2012. [15] Overhaul of the Indonesian boats included engine maintenance and repair, as well as the installation of new sonar, radar and navigation systems. In 2011, South Korea beat Russia, France, and Germany in competition for a $1.1 billion tender to supply Indonesia with three Type 209-class submarines. [16] All three submarines are under construction and will be delivered by 2019. As the largest-ever defense export contract with a South Korean company, the plans with Indonesia mark a rise in the prominence of South Korea as a submarine exporter. [17]

South Korean Shipyards

  • Daewoo: constructed nine Jang Bogo (Type 209/1200) vessels for the South Korean Navy and is constructing some of the planned nine Type 214 vessels. [18]
  • Hyundai: constructed the first three Type 214 vessels for the South Korean Navy. [19]

Sources:
[1] "Introduction," The Market: Australasia and East Asia, Korea South, Jane's Naval Construction and Retrofit Markets, August 8, 2003, No.18; and "Marineschiffbau," HDW, www.hdw.de.
[2] "Introduction," The Market: Australasia and East Asia, Korea, South, Jane's Naval Construction and Retrofit Markets, May 26, 2000.
[3] "Südkorea will U-Boote von HDW bauen," Deutsche Presse-Agentur, November 3, 2000; in Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe, http://web.lexis-nexis.com.
[4] Ridzwan Rahmat, "South Korea Launches Sixth KSS-2 Attack Submarine," IHS Jane's 360, May 6, 2015, www.janes.com.
[5] "Südkorea will U-Boote von HDW bauen," Deutsche Presse-Agentur, November 3, 2000; in Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe, http://web.lexis-nexis.com.
[6] "Exhibition: Subcon '95, ROKN consolidates submarine training," Jane's Navy International, December 1, 1995, Vol. 100, No. 6.
[7] Nathan Day, "HDW secures $US1.1b ROK submarine deal," Jane's Navy International, January 1, 2001.
[8] Richard Scott, "South Korea to build three Type 214 submarines," Jane's Defense Weekly, November 8, 2000.
[9] Jung Sung-Ki, "South Korea Focuses on Underwater Protection," Defense News, April 12, 2015, www.defensenews.com.
[10] Richard Scott, "Babcock Achieves Mileston on KSS-III Submarine Weapon-Handling System," IHS Jane's 360, September 25, 2014, www.janes.com.
[11] Jung Sung-Ki, "South Korea Focuses on Underwater Protection," Defense News, April 12, 2015, www.defensenews.com.
[12] Interview with Dr. Taebo Shim, principal researcher of the Naval Systems Development Center's (NSDC) Agency for Defense Development (ADD) by Hartmut Manseck, Naval Forces, 2002, No. 6, pp. 91-92; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company, http://proquest.umi.com.
[13] Richard Scott, "Building on Submarine Success [ID14D2]," IHS Jane's 360, November 5, 2014, www.janes.com.
[14] "DPR agrees on procurement of more Sukhoi aircraft," Kompas, September 1, 2003; in "Indonesia: Navy Chief of Staff visits South Korea to sign MoU for new Navy," FBIS Document SEP20030901000039.
[15] "Indonesia Navy Overahauls Submarines in South Korea," BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific - Political, February 8, 2012, www.lexisnexis.com.
[16] "Indonesia Navy Overahauls Submarines in South Korea," BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific - Politica, February 8, 2012, www.lexisnexis.com; Lee Tae-hoon, "Korea Eyes Tenfold Growth in Defense Exports," Korea Times, January 16, 2012, www.lexisnexis.com; "South Korea to Export Military Vessels to India, Indonesia - Official," BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific - Political, July 1, 2011, www.lexisnexis.com.
[17] Richard Scott, "Building on Submarine Success [ID14D2]," IHS Jane's 360, November 5, 2014, www.janes.com.
[18] "Introduction," The Market: Australasia and East Asia, Korea South, Jane's Naval Construction and Retrofit Markets, August 8, 2003, No.18: Richard Scott, "Babcock Achieves Mileston on KSS-III Submarine Weapon-Handling System," IHS Jane's 360, September 25, 2014, www.janes.com.
[19] "Südkorea will U-Boote von HDW bauen," Deutsche Presse-Agentur, November 3, 2000; in Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe, http://web.lexis-nexis.com.

September 28, 2015
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The submarine proliferation resource collection is designed to highlight global trends in the sale and acquisition of diesel- and nuclear-powered submarines. It is structured on a country-by-country basis, with each country profile consisting of information on capabilities, imports and exports.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2017.