Could South Korea’s Submarine ‘Sink’ North Korea in a War?

    Charlie Gao

    Security, Asia

    What you should know about a sub force that is many times overlooked.

    While South Korea is not known for its submarine fleet, it possesses a decent sized, quietly capable fleet. The ultimate goal of the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) is to produce their own diesel-electric attack submarine. The current fleet is relatively modern and possesses a strong overall capability for a diesel-electric fleet. But how does it stack up against the sub fleet of China and North Korea? Like many South Korean projects (eg. KDX-I, KDX-II, KDX-III for destroyers), the sub fleet is produced in a series of three. The KSS-I and KSS-II are German designs. The KSS-III will be the indigenous diesel-electric attack submarine. Some rumors have been floating around about a KSS-N nuclear submarine, but there is no concrete information on whether this proposal is being taken seriously. All submarines are relatively recent purchases, with the KSS-I being delivered in a series of two deals from 1993 to 2001, and the KSS-II being delivered from 2007 to the current day.

    Consider the KSS-I, alternately referred to as the Chang Bogo-class, or Type 209/1200 in the German export designation is a simple diesel-electric attack submarine. The number “1200” in the German designation indicates the tonnage of the submarine. Armed with eight standard 533mm torpedo tubes, the primary weapon of the KSS-I is the German SUT torpedo, it is an export torpedo originally developed in the 1970s. The torpedo is electrically driven and wire-guided, with a max speed of 35 knots and a range of around 40km.

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