Navy to create aviation command and task fleet

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Navy to create aviation command and task fleet

South Korea’s Navy said Thursday it plans to create an aviation command and a new task fleet in tandem with the military’s push for “aggressive operations” in response to North Korean provocations.

The Navy aims to put the units into operation by 2023 if the scheme is approved by the government, according to a report to the National Assembly’s defense committee for an annual audit. The envisioned aviation command, to be led by a rear admiral-level officer, will be in charge of more than 70 aircraft and helicopters.

The 41,000-strong Navy is seeking to acquire additional maritime patrol and operation choppers. The proposed mobile fleet, if formed, will include several 6,000-ton KDDX Aegis destroyers and three additional 7,600-ton KDX-III Aegis destroyers. The KDDX ships, which will be built in the mid-2020s, are to be equipped with an advanced ballistic missile defense system and ship-to-surface missiles.

“We will focus on improving our capability to strike the North Korean leadership and core targets inside [the North’s] ballistic missile operation area,” the Navy said during the parliamentary audit held at the Gyeryongdae military compound in South Chungcheong.

Meanwhile, the Marine Corps announced its ambition to play a bigger role in defending not only the nation’s frontline islands in the Yellow Sea but also Dokdo and Ieodo in the eastern and southern waters, respectively.

The small elite military subdivision hopes to launch a major unit, named “Strategic Islands Defense Command,” to replace the Northwest Islands Defense Command headed by the three-star commandant of the Marine Corps.

The existing command serves as a control tower for combat operations to counter any invasion of the five western islands just south of the Northern Limit Line - Baengnyeong, Yeonpyeong, Daecheong, Socheong and Udo.

“There’s a need to establish a unified command system for strategic islands in the East Sea, the Yellow Sea and the South Sea,” the Marine Corps said in a briefing to lawmakers.

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