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Hanwha 'Ghost Commander' – Unmanned Trimaran Aircraft Carrier That Becomes a 'Nest' for Drones

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    Hanwha 'Ghost Commander' – Unmanned Trimaran Aircraft Carrier That Becomes a 'Nest' for Drones

    Steady as a Blue Water Navy, South Korea has a serious roadmap for developing aircraft carriers. After operating two Dokdo class helicopter carriers (ROKS Dokdo LPH-6111 and ROKS Marado LPH-6112), South Korea is also preparing an aircraft carrier to accommodate the F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter jet which specifically has SVTOL (Short Take-off) capabilities. and Vertical Landing).

    Responding to the above needs, the South Korean Ministry of Defense on August 10 2020 announced the LPX-II program, namely a new type of aircraft carrier designed to carry 20 F-35B units. 

    But in facing the dynamics of war in the future, the Ginseng Country is required to think harder in the aspect of developing aircraft carriers, because South Korea is facing two threats at once, namely from China and North Korea.

    Departing from future challenges, Hanwha at the Aerospace & Defense Exhibition (ADEX) 2023 at Seoul Air Base, showed the design of a future aircraft carrier called "Ghost Commander". 

    Apart from its futuristic design, Ghost Commander is designed as an unmanned aircraft carrier capable of deploying air combat drones (UCAV), surface sea drones (USV) and underwater drones (UUV/AUV).

    Quoted from EDR On-Line – (18/10/2023), Ghost Commander has an attractive design, this hybrid ship weighs 16,000 tons, is 200 meters long and travels at a maximum speed of 25 knots.

    This futuristic unmanned aircraft carrier features a trimaran hull design. Overall propulsion is provided by an electric motor powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

    The main flight deck is coaxial with the ship's hull and runs the length of the entire ship, the runway is also coaxial, while a second, much shorter runway is located to starboard, tilted slightly to starboard. Both were used only for take-off operations, as the aft superstructure did not allow landing.

    As for landing, a very short runway with stay cables is located above the superstructure, tilted to the left; a lift on the left side makes it possible to lower the landing UAV in the hangar where the robotic system will enable automatic rollover operations to get the airframe ready for the next mission. On the same flight deck, on the left side, we can see the landing site for UAVs that take off and land vertically.

    As a concept ship, many solutions may change, but catapult-assisted take-off and arresting equipment landing appear to be the current options, although much will depend on the performance of the UAV.

    Six long-range reconnaissance UAVs with a near-flying wing configuration were placed on board, the same number were also carried on the shorter rage fuselage. For offensive and defensive purposes, a total of 48 vertically launched drones, with a mix of kamikaze drones and anti-drone UAVs, compete with aviation detachments.

    Ghost Commander can also accommodate three Extra-large uncrewed underwater vehicles (XLUUV) with a diameter of 2.5 meters, a length of 23 meters, a weight of 50 tonnes and a maximum speed of up to 15 knots. Its stealth characteristics are enhanced thanks to low-noise propellers, minimal magnetic signature and tight control of underwater noise radiation.

    DR On-Line said the first Ghost Commander prototype is expected to be made in 10-15 years. And this may look very different from the model shown on ADEX, as concept studies tend to progress quite quickly.

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