South Korea Offers KSS-III Dosan Ahn Changho Class Submarine to Australia

South Korea Offers KSS-III Dosan Ahn Changho Class Submarine to Australia

After winning the successful Protected Mobile Fires tender (LAND 8116 Phase 3 Program), where Hawnha Defense won a US$1 Billion contract to supply 30 AS9 Huntsman Self Tracked Propelled Howitzers (SPH) and 15 AS10 Armored Ammunition Resupply Vehicles (AARV), and is currently competing in the IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) Redback chain-wheeled tender. There is news that South Korea is currently wooing Australia to buy conventional submarines, namely as a gap filler when the Collins Class submarine retires.

As is known, Australia, along with the formation of the AUKUS defense alliance, has announced the acquisition of eight nuclear submarines. However, the challenge is that it will take a long time to build or bring in a nuclear submarine, and even now Australia has not decided on the intended platform for the submarine design. Under the existing conditions, the Australian Navy will receive nuclear submarines at the earliest in 2040, while the Collins Class submarines will expire in the 2030s.

Quoted from (7/25/2022), South Korea is offering a new submarine for Australia with a delivery time of 7 years after the contact is signed. The offer was made by the South Korean Ambassador to Australia, Jeong-sik Kang, and several senior Korean defense officials at a dinner.

In front of 20 Australian defense officials, a South Korean civil defense official showed two models of the KSS-III submarine, which is said to be the largest and quietest conventional attack submarine in the world equipped with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) technology. The submarine is also equipped with ballistic missiles – SLBM (submarine-launched ballistic missile).

In the presentation, the KSS-III with a weight of 3,700 tons was depicted in an attractive graphic illustration, namely the cruising distance of the submarine from the Australian naval base HMAS Stirling which is located 50 km south of Perth.

The South Korean side also said that the submarine offers comfortable compartments to increase crew morale and effectiveness. KSS-III is also known as the Dosan Ahn Changho Class produced by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME). This submarine has a length of 83.5 meters, width 9.6 meters.

The feature of this modern submarine is the presence of noise reduction technology. Local content is a priority in the construction of this submarine, such as the LIG Nex1 which supplies a suite of active and passive sonar, cylindrical bows, intercept, ranging, and towed arrays. 

KSS-III Dosan Ahn Changho Class Submarine
KSS-III Dosan Ahn Changho Class Submarine Design

Meanwhile, the Integrated Combat Management System (ICMS) is supplied by Hanwha Systems (ICMS). Meanwhile, some components are still being supplied from overseas vendors, such as the optronic mast attack periscope from Safran, and the radar electronic support measurement (RESM) system from Indra Pegaso.

The KSS-III weighed 3,358 tons when it surfaced and 3,705 tons when it sank. The submarine has a maximum speed of about 20 knots, a cruising range of 10,000 nautical miles (18,520 km) and can accommodate a crew of 50.

Even though it is an attractive offer, it is not necessarily easy for Australia to digest an offer from South Korea. The reason is that Australia will have to decide about the capability gap, how long it will last and whether, most importantly, Australia will be able to build and support a nuclear submarine shipyard at the same time as the South Korean offer of submarines is operational.

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