▲ Imagination of the light carrier strike group envisioned by the Navy

A government agency has determined that it is possible to independently develop the KF-21N (Navy), a model for naval aircraft carrier aircraft of the Korean fighter KF-21. As a result of the research service for the "Domestic R&D Plan for Ship-Mounted Fighter Aircraft" commissioned by the Korea Defense Technology Promotion Institute, it was analyzed that it is possible to electrify in 4 and a half years by investing 1.10 trillion won, including development and mass production.

One of the reasons why the light carrier business has been suspended for two years is the aircraft carrier. The U.S. F-2B is so expensive, and the ROK Air Force hopes to acquire more F-35A than the F-35B. The government sided with the Air Force, and the Navy lost the way to secure the aircraft. However, as a result of this research service, an alternative to developing the KF-35 into the KF-21N aircraft aircraft was placed before the Navy.

Another cause of the suspension of the light carrier business was public opinion against light carriers. Public opinion favored heavy carriers, and in reality, heavy carriers are of great use. The research service also presented a medium carrier as a vision of a Korean carrier. It will be interesting to see if the research services of the Institute for the Advancement of Defense Technology will break through the blockage of the light carrier business.

"Korean aircraft KF-21N can be independently developed"

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▲ Domestic aircraft KF-21N model

The National Defense Technology Promotion Research Institute's "Domestic R&D Plan for Ship-Mounted Fighter Aircraft," which ended last month, estimated the total project cost of the KF-21 development at 4.1 trillion won. 1.8 trillion won for development and 2.3 trillion won for mass production.

The development period came out to be 8 years and 6 months. Electrification was set at 10 years and 6 months, which is the period of naval test flights after the completion of development is considered to be 2 years. Ten years seems like a long time, but the Navy's light carrier business is about 10 years, which means that if you put the carriers and aircraft together, you will see a domestically produced carrier with the KF-10N in 10 years.

The research service determined that "there are no technical restrictions in domestic R&D." Some foreign technical cooperation is needed in landing gear, brakes, electric vehicles, etc., but it is not a mountain that cannot be crossed because there are assets for the development of the KF-21.

"A medium carrier is suitable"

The National Defense Technology Promotion Research Institute's "Domestic R&D Plan for Ship-Mounted Fighters" research service saw the required number of KF-21N aircraft as 16. Considering the air-to-ship engagement capability, it is necessary to carry 21 KF-28N, and considering the defense of the carrier combat group and the air control of aircraft aircraft in the future, it is necessary to secure two airborne early warning aircraft and two rescue helicopters. A medium carrier is an acceptable aircraft size.

The aircraft take-off method was found to be suitable for injection, ski jumping, and vertical take-off and landing, which apply to heavy carriers and above. This is because there is no limit on the maximum take-off weight of the aircraft, air-to-air, air-to-ground, and air-to-ship missions are possible, and it can be applied to various fixed-wing aircraft such as future unmanned fighters. The results of the research service raised questions about how to obtain injection technology, and Korea Aerospace Industries KAI and Hyundai Heavy Industries explained, "It is more economical to purchase injection molding machines than to develop them because they require about two per ship, and U.S. companies are willing to sell them through FMS (overseas arms sales)."

Based on the results of this study, the military authorities are considering changing the light carrier business to a heavy carrier business. It is reported that a decision will be made to start heavy carrier research services as early as this month. The Korean carrier is going through ups and downs, somehow moving forward step by step. Separately, the Navy will also have to reformulate the operational doctrine of the Korean carrier. We need a Korean-style carrier doctrine that fits perfectly into the battlefield environment of the Korean Peninsula, not a doctrine that looks good and is vulnerable to opposing logic.