Hyundai to design F-35B-capable amphibious assault ship for ROK Navy

South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries has received a contract to design the Republic of Korea Navy’s next-generation amphibious assault ship that would be capable of supporting short-takeoff and vertical landing fighter jet operations.

Dubbed LPX-II, the project will be a follow-on to the two LPX-I ships, the first of which was commissioned in 2007 while the second is expected to enter service in 2020 after being launched in 2018.

According to a report from Yonhap, Hyundai is to deliver a conceptual design for a “large-deck” landing ship before exact specifications and technologies are determined. The work is to be completed by the second half of 2020.

In September 2018, Republic of Korea Marine Corps Chief, Lt. Gen. Jun Jin-goo, said the service was “considering building a LPX (large platform experimental)-type ship capable of carrying aircraft in close cooperation with the navy”.

The ship, which is planned to be put in service in the 2030s, will most likely operate the Lockheed Martin-built F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing version of the fifth-generation fighter aircraft. The country has a total of 40 F-35A (conventional takeoff and landing variant) aircraft on order under a contract from 2014.

The country’s arms procurement agency announced earlier this month that it has initiated the acquisition of another 20 aircraft, without specifying the exact version to be bought. Some media reports have indicated that the second batch of jets could be the F-35B variant.

Photo: US Navy file photo of Republic of Korea Navy Dokdo-class amphibious assault ship ROKS Dokdo (LPH-6111)