KSS-II: South Korea Orders 6 More U-214 AIP Submarines
The German Type 214 was selected by Korea over the French/Spanish Scorpene Class that has been ordered by Chile, India, and Malaysia. Some would argue that U-214s are the most advanced diesel-electric submarines on the market, with an increased diving depth of over 400 meters, an optimized hull and propeller design, ultra-modern internal systems, and an Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system that lets the diesel submarine stay submerged for long periods without needing to surface and snorkel air.
South Korea ordered its first 3 KSS-II/ Type 214 boats in 2000, which were assembled by Hyundai Heavy Industries. The Batch 2 order will add 6 more of the 65m, 1,700t boats, effectively doubling the ROKN’s number of modern submarines. The latest development is a $16 million order for Saab electronic systems for the 2nd batch of 214 submarines.
DAPA has selected Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering to build the first boat from Batch 2, and expects to send out another set of tenders for the 5th U-214 boat in 2009.
The KSS-II Batch 2 submarines will include some improvements. HDW’s existing AIP system uses Siemens PEM fuel cells which produce 120 kW per module, and give the submarine an underwater endurance of 2 weeks. This second batch of the Sohn Won-il Class will reportedly improve on that system.
On the other hand, Korean newspapers have been reporting high noise levels in previous ships of class, due to propeller shaft problems. Time will tell if Batch 2 submarines manage to fix that issue.
These U214 submarines will join the 3 existing U-209 Chang Bo-go Class boats from the ROKN’s KSS-I program, which were transferred from the German Navy between 1992-1994. The first 2 KSS-II boats of the 1,980 ton U-214 Sohn Won-il Class, SS 072 Sohn Won-il and SS 073 Jeong Ji, were delivered to the ROK Navy in December 2007 and 2008. The 3rd boat, SS 075 An Jung-geun, was delivered in December 2009.
A 1 trillion won KSS-III program is also planned, wherein South Korea would design and manufacture an indigenous 3,000 ton submarine with an Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system to supplement its diesels, and Korean submarine combat systems and land attack cruise missiles. The submarines were originally slated for a 2020 introduction, but in May 2009 they were moved back to 2022.
Contracts & Key Events
May 18/11: The Korea Herald quotes Rep. Song Young-sun of the minority Future Hope Alliance, who says that the ROKN’s 3 U214 submarines were all suspended from operations in 2010 and early 2011, after bolts used to attach their upper bridges and decks came loose during operations. A total of 20 bolts came loose from SS 072 Sohn Won-il on 6 occasions between 2006-2009. From 2009-2010, SS 073 Jeong Ji had broken or loosened bolts on 6 occasions, and SS 075 Ahn Jung-geun had 3 occasions.
The problem was traced back to a local subcontractor, whose bolts were not up to HDW’s specified strength. When stronger bolts didn’t stop the problem, U214 designer HDW was called in, and fixed the problem between June 2010 – February 2011.
July 21/10: HDW selects Thales and Samsung Thales to provide X-band Satcom Terminals for their 6 KSS-II Batch 2 submarines. The delivered system is issued from Thales’s DIVESAT technology, and belongs to Thales’ 2nd generation of submarine terminals. It is available in 2 versions, one fitted with a 40 cm antenna and one fitted with a 75 cm antenna, each capable of high-bandwidth voice/data operation at X, Ku, Ka or EHF frequency bands. Thales.
Dec 29/09: Saab in Stockholm, Sweden, announced that it is working with South Korean defense firm LIG Nex1 to supply naval electronic support measure (ESM) systems for the South Korean Navy’s 2nd batch of U-214 submarines. The ESM order value is approximately 11 million euro ($16 million).
ESM systems detect emissions in the electro-magnetic frequency, typically but not exclusively radar signals, and locate the source of the emissions. LIG Nex1 will produce Saab’s ESM system for delivery to Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), who will insert the equipment into the 2nd batch of U-214 submarines for the South Korean Navy.
Sept 7/09: Atlas Electronik announces “the largest single order in its company history,” but does not provide cost details for a contract from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems AG subsidiary HDW (Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH). Atlas will equip all 6 of Korea’s U-214 submarines with its ISUS 90-61 combat systems, as part of HDW’s contract to deliver 6 “material packages” to South Korea. ISUS 90 integrates all sensors and command and control functions, including data from the submarines’ sonar systems, external datalinks like Link-11, attack periscope; and the optronic mast, which includes ESM systems for detecting hostile electro-magnetic emissions, and global positioning system sensors.
The contract includes stipulations for extensive teamwork with the Korean industry, which is being pushed by the South Korean government to develop expertise in combat systems as part of a larger national naval industry strategy.
The first batch involved 3 boats and was contracted in 2000, and Atlas remains a member of the team for the 6 boat Batch 2 order. Following a recent buy-out, Atlas is now a joint venture of ThyssenKrupp and EADS.
Jan 8/08: HDW’s parent firm ThyssenKrupp announces that South Korea’s DAPA procurement agency has signed a contract for contract for 6 “material packages” used to build Class 214 submarines. These packages consist of unassembled submarine parts and partial assemblies, which are integrated in the purchasing country to “manufacture” the item in question. ThyssenKrupp refuses all comment regarding costs.
- ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems – Class 214
- Naval Technology – U212 / U214 Attack Submarines, Germany
- Wikipedia – Type 214 Submarine
- DID (Jan 24/06) – ThyssenKrupp & EADS Beat Thales et. al. to Acquire Atlas Elektronik