New Class Of South Korean Sub Launched
The Sohn Won-il, the first of the next generation of South Korean submarines, was launched last week. The 1,800 ton boat is of the German Type 214 design, and is the lead sub of what is planned to be a three (or nine)-ship class:
"The 214-Type submarine, 65.3 meters long and 6.3 meters wide, is equipped with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) that helps improve its underwater capability. It can submerge to a depth of up to 400 meters and carry out underwater operations for a maximum two weeks at a time. "The submarine, equipped with eight torpedo tubes and advanced submarine-to-surface missiles, has a maximum dive speed of 20 knots and a seating capacity of 40. It costs around $1 billion. "The Sohn Won-il submarine will be declared operational in the second half of next year after undergoing sea trials, according to the Navy."
The building of an AIP boat puts South Korean in elite company among the sub-building countries of the world, according to this article on the sub's launch:
"Korea has become the first country to launch an AIPS submarine in Northeast Asia. Japan, a submarine powerhouse, is in the middle of building a 3,000-ton class submarine, the 16SS, which is larger than the 214s and equipped with AIPS. It will be ready by around 2008. Elsewhere, Germany, Sweden, Greece, Italy and Russia either have or are developing AIPS subs."
I admit that I was surprised to see Greece on the list; they're not known as a big sub-building country. Sure enough, though, three Type 214s for the Hellenic Navy are scheduled to be built in the German-owned Hellenic Shipyard over the next few years.
For the South Korean Navy, though, they recently announced plans to build six more of the Type 214s, in addition to the three already started. Combined with their nine Changbogo-class Type 209s, they should have a force (planned to reach at 18 boats) that can deal with the North Korean's 97 less capable submarines (only 26 of which are full-sized boats, mostly old Romeos) quite easily.
(I should note that I was quite late in posting about this; Eagle1 beat me by several days.)