SEOUL, Oct. 20 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s two leading shipbuilders are competing against each other to obtain an order for the country’s first light aircraft carrier.
The Navy is pushing to complete the project for a 30,000-ton aircraft carrier by 2033, though it did not reveal the date of open bidding for a basic design of the warship.
The value of the deal is yet to be revealed, but the defense ministry allocated a 7.2 billion won (US$6 million) budget for next year as part of the project.
The Navy expects the total budget for the project to be estimated at around 2 trillion won.
Global top shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. has taken the lead in a race with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. (DSME) to win an order for the basic design of the aircraft carrier.
A basic design, the second step of four-stage ship design, refers to a stage to confirm specifications and technologies required to build the vessel.
If a shipbuilder wins an order for the basic design of a vessel, it usually constructs the vessel.
Hyundai Heavy Industries carried out a conceptual design for the aircraft carrier in December 2020 in cooperation with British defense company Bobcock, which was commissioned by the Navy.
A conceptual design, the first step of ship construction, refers to the basic concept and characteristics of the vessel to meet the requirements of the buyer.
In September, Hyundai Heavy Industries also signed a partnership deal with Bobcock to grab an order for the basic design of the aircraft carrier.
The partnership deal was followed on Tuesday by a deal between Hyundai Heavy Industries and Korea Aerospace Industries Co. (KAI), the country’s sole aircraft manufacturer, to cooperate on the aircraft carrier project.
“The two companies will join forces to solve technical problems in the operation of ship planes on the aircraft carrier,” Hyundai Heavy Industries said in a statement.
Hyundai Heavy Industries’ smaller rival DSME has been making efforts to catch up with its bigger rival.
In June, DSME signed a deal with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri to share technologies to build the aircraft carrier.
DSME also inked a deal in August with Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Co., a local mid-sized shipbuilder specialized in the construction of warships, to grab an order for the basic design of the aircraft carrier.
DSME has said it had reviewed the feasibility of the construction of an aircraft carrier with the Navy from 2015 to 2016.
“We believe that an order for the basic design of the aircraft carrier could be awarded to us, though Hyundai Heavy Industries carried out a conceptual design for it,” Yoon Yo-han, a spokesperson at DSME said by phone.
An aircraft carrier model proposed by Hyundai Heavy Industries has a ski jump on its deck, which helps its fighters take off more effectively, but the one proposed by DSME has no ski jump.