LP-X Dokdo (Landing Platform Experimental)
The LPX program, similar to the Japanese Ohsumi type LPD, could be regarded as another effort to have a greater regional influence. The ROK Navy desired the ship to have a large flight deck like a helicopter carrier; a flooding well deck to accommodate Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV's) and Landing Cushion Aircraft (LCAC) is being considered.
This ship was initially projected to displace around 10,000 tons. Being 200 meters long, 31 meters wide and displacing 14,000 tons [18,000 fully loaded], the ship can carry a battalion of marines (about 700 men), 10 CH-60 helicopters, 10 armored vehicles, up to 200 vehicles, 15 helicopters, and two LCAC hovercrafts capable of landing on enemy shores doing 40 knots -- a mix that enables it to launch troop landings from both sea and air.
The ships can be used in a wide range of activities, including UN peacekeeping operations and disaster relief. For this reason, the LP-X is expected to usher in a new era of expanded Korean naval prowess, since it can be used for relief, transport, and other peacetime activities.
With a light displacement of 14,000 tons the LP-X is not only be the largest vessel in the Korean Navy but also substantially larger than the similar Osumi-class landing ship (8,900 tons) of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, and with a larger payload capacity as well, making it the regions largest of its kind. Previously, the largest ship in the Korean Navy was the 9,000-ton support vessel Cheonji.
The LPX is a high-speed amphibious ship, based on the concept of "over-the- horizon assault." As the name indicates, the "over-the-horizon assault" comprises a military operation in which an amphibious landing operation is conducted with high-speed air-cushioned vehicles and helicopters from beyond the horizon, where they can't be detected or attacked by the enemy. The conventional LST (landing ship tank) has to approach the coastline for landing, at the risk of being fired upon by the enemy.
The hull consists of four decks, this highest of which is the 1st deck [the flight deck], with the bridge superstructure. The flight deck can accomodated five UH-60 helicopters simultaneously. When the budget situation is improved, there is the possibilty that the NH-90 or the E101 Merlin could be adopted.
The 2nd deck is composed with the rooms of the dwelling sector, the command post and utility system of the crew. It is able to accommodate a landing party with a strength 700 persons.
The 3rd deck includes the well-dock for loading the 2 LCACs. It is able to load 70 tanks or 200 truck, but normally the load is 10 helicopters and 2 tank companies, along with their support equipment. While being entirely mechanized, it will be able to accommodate 1 battalion strength and the equipment and armament.
At the lower part stern there is an entrance and exit door which is how the LCAC comes in and out. The LCAC is accommodated with a length and width of 26.4m X 14.3m. It loads the equipment with a total weight of 60-75 ton fullly loaded, and can sustain a speed 74Km/hr (40 knot). At this speed the cruise range is 320Km, and at 65Km/hr (35 knot) the range is 480Km. Generally it will be able to embark the individual basic load strength of 1 tank with 2 squads together. The LCAC is able to attempt landing in the coastal areas of 70% of the coasts. After landing it is able to operate in even until more deeply inland.
The LP-X is a multi-functional vessel. It can also function as a command vessel for the Navy's three-dimensional mobile operations. A combat commanding system, equipped with a digital C41SR function, can manage and control support vessels, aircraft and their weapons, on a real-time basis, so that the landing troops can make a prompt and effective response to the enemy's status. In other words, it can serve as a base vessel that commands a strategic mobile operation fleet consisting of KDX-III (Aegis vessel) and KDX-II (Korean destroyer) vessels and submarines. The LP-X can function as the flagship with a command bridge established on the deck top island. The battle command system with the digital C41SR function was purchased in 2002 for 52,900,000,000 won [about $50,000,000].
The radars, which are the eyes of the warship, include the SMART-L long range 3 dimension search radar, with a detection and tracking range of 400Km.
The armament includes a close defense weapon system center, and the RAM, which is only the third country in the world, after Germany and the United States. The - CIWS [Close-In Weapon Systems] GoalKeeper was purchased in January 2003 from Thales, and a per-set price of 13,000,000,000 won [about $15,000,000]. On the are in front of the bridge roof there is the space arrangement for the configuration of the ESSM.
Goalkeeper is Thales' answer to the need for close-in defence of ships against highly manoeuvrable missiles and aircraft. It is an autonomous and fully automatic system which detects and tracks its targets, opens fire and performs kill assessment for several targets simultaneously. Continuous search with track-while-scan provides an automatic and fast switch-over to the next-priority target in multiple-target scenarios, assuring the timely detection of small and supersonic targets, even in dense clutter and jamming environments.
A bolt-on 45’ ski jump is under development, and the flight deck is coated with ablative urethane. Both features have no other use than V/STOL aircraft employment. Both elevators are sized to handle F-35-sized planes. None the less, the South Korean government continues to deny that it is interested in the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. If it were equipped with a ski jump board module, 15-17 meters in length, it could operate short-range and vertical landing/take-off aircraft such as the Harrier or F-35B. Ships of this type are sometimes called a semi-aircraft carrier. The flight deck is coated with special Urethane to resist heat generated from aircraft. However, Korean military authorities have made it clear that they have no plan to convert the LPX into such a semi-aircraft carrier.
A Military Review article in March 2008 looked at a modification of the Dokdo class amphibious multipurpose ship with structural differences, such as an increased hull and a ski ramp. Some discussions of such future implementation of the multi-purpose amphibious ship may have been an aviation-variant of the design of the overall form Dokdo did not anticipate a big difference, but this more detailed treatment which provided for both aviationa and amphbious moobility came to rather different conclusions.
“To cope with potential maritime disputes with neighboring countries, we need to secure aircraft carriers as soon as possible," Rep. Chung Hee-soo of the ruling Saenuri Party and a member of the National Assembly’s Defense Committee, said 11 October 2013 during a confirmation hearing for Adm. Choi Yoon-hee, new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “For more active international peacekeeping operations, our Navy should have carriers." According to Chung, the Navy envisions equipping the second ship of the Dokdo-class landing platform helicopter ship (LPH) with a ski ramp to operate short-range or vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.
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