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Babcock awarded additional work contract for South Korean Navy submarines

ROKS Dosan Ahn Changho (SS-083), a Jangbogo-III Class submarine. Photo: Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense

British aerospace and defence company Babcock has been awarded a contract to deliver a weapons handling launch system for the South Korean Navy’s submarine program.

British aerospace and defence company Babcock has been awarded a contract to deliver a weapons handling launch system for the South Korean Navy’s submarine program.

Babcock will manufacture and install the weapons handling launch system (WHLS) on Boat Six “Jangbogo-III Batch-II Boat 3” of the Jangbogo-III Class boat, under the seven-year contract awarded by Hanwha Ocean.

Babcock has been involved with the Jangbogo-III program since 2011 and is currently more than halfway through delivering hardware for Boat Four, having completed all 217 milestones on time or early across the contracts.


Key elements of the WHLS will be designed and produced in the UK, with the remainder built under licence in South Korea.

“Babcock is a world leader in weapons handling and launch systems – and we are delighted to have been awarded this contract to continue our work on the Jangbogo-III Class submarine program,” according to Babcock mission systems chief executive Neal Misell.

“In an increasingly complex geopolitical climate, defence customers want products and services which are affordable, capable, and available.

“Babcock’s air turbine pump system successfully satisfies these requirements and our team’s top-quality reputation is reflected by its delivery of all major Jangbogo-III milestones on time or early.”

Boat Six, along with the rest of the class, will use the air turbine pump and programmable firing valve launch system, according to the Babcock statement on 31 January.

“Our patented air turbine pump offers several advantages. It is compact and highly efficient as it uses less firing air, meaning the system is quiet and has lower maintenance requirements than other handling and launch systems,” according to Babcock.

“We have designed, manufactured, and provided in-service support for submarine weapons handling and launch systems for more than 50 years; with our products currently used by the UK, Spanish, South Korean, and Canadian navies.

Earlier this year, Babcock’s managing director for AUKUS and international, Sir Nick Hine, visited Hanwha Ocean to discuss ways the two companies could collaborate as a team in the global submarine market and grow international collaboration with Hanwha Ocean.

Late last year, the Republic of Korea, the US, and Japan agreed to improve their defence exercise collaboration and share an “information hotline” after trilateral cooperation talks.

US President Joseph Biden, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio met at the Camp David Trilateral Summit on 18 August 2023.

All three countries have since reportedly agreed to launch annual multi-domain military exercises to improve trilateral defence cooperation, speed up information sharing on North Korea’s missile launches and cyber activities to strengthen ballistic missile defence cooperation.

“The Republic of Korea, the United States, and Japan proclaimed that we will bolster the rules-based international order and play key roles to enhance regional security and prosperity based on our shared values of freedom, human rights and rule of law,” President Yoon said through a translator.

“The stronger coordination between Korea, the US, and Japan requires more robust institutional foundations.

“Moreover, challenges that threaten regional security must be addressed by us building a stronger commitment to working together.”

President Yoon said all three countries will broaden collaboration in the field of cutting-edge technologies, specifically in artificial intelligence, quantum, bio, next-generation telecommunications, and space sectors.

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