ROKS Dokdo of Korea is considered the Asia’s top amphibious assault ship, she has superior power to Type 071 of China or even Japan’s Hyuga and Izumo.
Japan’s Ministry of Defense recently announced plans to procure 40 stealth fighter F-35B Ligtning II short take-off and vertical-landing after purchasing 42 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing. These fighters will be equipped for the Izumo helicopter carriers, turning these ships into light aircraft carriers, exactly as the observers expected from the beginning.
Facing the situation of Japan and China are building an aircraft carrier fleet, the Korean Navy certainly did not stand outside, especially when they have the Dokdo-class amphibious assault ships in their hands, and the leading ship of this class is ROKS Dokdo, LPH-6111.
ROKS Dokdo of Korea is considered the Asia’s top amphibious assault ship, she has superior power to Type 071 of China or even Japan’s Hyuga and Izumo. In addition to carrying helicopters, armored vehicles, air-cushion ships, the ship can carry up to 700 soldiers at the same time. When necessary, this lander can also deploy the F-35B stealth fighter. This is said to be the pride of the Korean shipbuilding industry.
The ROKS Dokdo amphibious assault ship was the result of the Landing Platform Experimental project deployed by the Korean Navy and the contractor Haijin Heavy Industries designed and built. The purpose of this project was to respond to China’s carrier building program, the development of Japan’s Osumi tank landing ship and Hyuga helicopter carrier.
The vessel was launched in July 2005 and fully operational in July 2007, the estimated cost of building the ship was about 650 million dollars. The name Dokdo comes from the Korean name for the Liancourt Rocks, called Takeshima in Japanese. The islets’ ownership is disputed between Japan and South Korea. Presently Dokdo is the flagship and the largest vessel in the South Korean navy.
ROKS Dokdo is similar in appearance and mission to the Wasp-class landing helicopter-dock ships of the U.S. Navy, with a full-length flight deck, island and well deck. 660 feet long and displacement of 19,000 tons fully loaded, Dokdo can carry up to seven hundred Republic of Korea Marines and their equipment, including ten trucks, six tanks, six amphibious assault vehicles, three artillery pieces, ten Blackhawk-type helicopters and two Korean-made landing hovercraft. The standard operating crew complement numbers 330 personnel.
Most of the ship’s direct surface area is taken up by the flight deck, can accommodate five helicopters at a time. The aeroplane shed on the lower deck is a multi-layer structure equipped with elevators. The flight surface is also sprayed with urethane, which can support VTOL jets, like Harriers.
South Korea is considering the purchase of F-35B fighters to operate from its Dokdo-class ships. Currently, the Dokdo operates mainly UH-1H and UH-60P. However, both of these are designed for land‐based operations and lack abilities for ship-borne operations such as protection against damage from salty breezes making them difficult to operate on-board continuously. The island’s superstructure is set deflected to the starboard side and contains bridges, communications and radar as well as an active control center.
Developed based on the concept of over-the-horizon assaults, Dokdo can conduct amphibious landing operations with high-speed Landing Craft Air Cushion and helicopters from beyond the horizon. At the stern is a floor released and recovered for these vehicles, two such watercraft are carried for assaults.
Installed propulsion system is 4 SEMT Pielstick diesel engines based on combined diesel and diesel plant, developing 32,000 horsepower each. The propulsion system provides a maximum speed of 23 knots and cruising range of 10,000 Nautical mile at 18 knots speed.
Sensor and Armament
Self-defense armament includes the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile system. The Goalkeeper Close-in weapon system was purchased in January 2003 from Thales, at a per-set price of 13,000,000,000 won, roughly $15,000,000.
The ship’s combat data system manages and controls onboard weapons and allows the ship to command support vessels and aircraft in the strategic mobile operation fleet. Sensors and processing systems included SMART-L air search radar, this radar can detect and track targets within the range of 400km. In addition, the ship is also equipped with ELM-2248 multifunction surveillance radar, MW08 surface search radar, AN/SPS-95K navigation radar and VAMPIR-MB optronic sight. Electronic warfare & decoys included SLQ-200 SONATA and Chaff launcher.
Commissioned with great fanfare in 2007, Dokdo was to be the first of a three-ship class that included a second ship, Marado, and a third possible ship named Baengnyeongdo. Unfortunately, construction never began on the remaining ships and Dokdo risked becoming a white elephant. However, in the spring of 2017 South Korea finally began construction on Marado, and the fate of Baengnyeongdo is uncertain.
In March 2010, Dokdo assisted in search and rescue operations after the sinking of ROKS Cheonan. In July, the ship took part in Operation Invincible Spirit, a joint alliance exercise.
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