South Korean Navy moves forward with aircraft carrier project


(MENAFN-IANS)

Seoul, October 14 (IANS) Admiral Boo Suk-jong, South Korea’s chief of naval operations, on Thursday pledged to continue with plans to build the country’s first light aircraft carrier by 2033 despite lingering doubts on its feasibility and necessity.

During a parliamentary audit at the military headquarters in Gyeryongdae, 160 km south of Seoul, Boo reaffirmed that the project would continue “whatever the challenge ahead,” reported the Yonhap news agency.

Critics said the military as a whole should instead focus on strengthening its defense capabilities in other areas, including submarine operations.

They also pointed out that the aircraft carrier could be easily exposed to threats from anti-ship weapons and evolving torpedoes.

“No matter what challenge lies ahead, all Navy personnel will work together to make sure the project progresses as planned,” said Boo.

The Navy is looking to build a 30,000-ton aircraft carrier because it wants to strengthen deterrence against North Korea and improve its long-range operational capability in a region surrounded by major maritime powers, such as China and Japan.

Earlier this year, the Navy released a manual stressing that a light aircraft carrier would help the country root out provocations from the North and “end a war at an early stage.”

The Department of Defense, meanwhile, has already allocated a budget of 7.2 billion won ($ 6 million) for next year under the project.

The Navy said the total budget is estimated at around 2,000 billion won, but that it won’t be a huge financial burden given that construction takes more than 10 years.

–IANS

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