S. Korea launches 3rd 3,000-ton attack submarine capable of firing ballistic missiles

By Lim Chang-won Posted : September 28, 2021, 14:52 Updated : September 28, 2021, 14:52

[Yonhap News Photo]

SEOUL -- South Korea launched its third 3,000-ton attack submarine capable of firing ballistic missiles. The diesel-electric submarine featuring advanced noise reduction technologies can operate underwater for 20 days without surfacing.

The third 3,000-ton submarine named "Shin Chae-ho" was built at the shipyard of Hyundai Heavy Industries, while two 3,000-ton submarines have been constructed by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME).

With the launch of Shin Chae-ho on September 28, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) controlled by the defense ministry said South Korea has secured a second shipyard capable of building submarines. The 3,000-ton submarine capable of firing six submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) is 83.5 meters long and 9.6 meters wide.

On September 15, President Moon Jae-in observed the test launch of a ballistic missile from a 3,000-ton submarine. The launch of South Korea's SLBM, based on a Hyunmoo-2B ballistic missile that can fly over 500 kilometers (310 miles), was possible after Washington lifted restrictions on missile development at summit talks between U.S. and South Korean leaders in May 2021.

South Korea has a three-stage project called KSS (Jangbogo) to develop a fleet of submarines. Through the first phase, nine 1,200-ton diesel-electric submarines have been built with technical help from Germany’s Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW). The second phase called for the construction of six 1,800-ton vessels. Through the third phase, submarines of 3,000 tons or more are to be built.

DSME has secured a defense contract to build South Korea's second 3,600-ton submarine installed with lithium-ion batteries that are more power-efficient than lead-acid batteries, take up less space and improve underwater navigation capability and high-speed maneuvering. Construction of the first 3,600-ton submarine began on August 13.

Submarines using lead-acid batteries surface regularly to vent poisonous fumes created in the processes of cooling and charging. With the adoption of lithium-ion batteries, South Korea can strengthen submarine performance and secure competitiveness in large-capacity lithium-ion battery technology, setting the turning point for maritime power.

The 3,600-ton submarine armed with torpedos, guided missiles and sea mines can sail at a maximum speed of 37 km per hour with 50 crew members on board. It is 89 meters long and 9.6 meters wide. The first 3,600-ton submarine is set to be deployed for naval missions in 2027 and the second one a year later.
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