by Ryan Maass
Seoul (UPI) Feb 9, 2017
South Korea's defense procurement agency will move up the scheduled delivery of two hovercraft landing ships by one year.
The move, which the agency says is meant to counter North Korea's growing nuclear capabilities, brings the delivery date from 2021 to 2020 according to IHS Janes. Hanjin Heavy Industries received a $130 million contract to support the project.
"If the hovercraft landing ships are deployed in 2020, the navy's operational capabilities will receive a boost amid growing tensions from North Korea," a spokesperson for DAPA, South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration, told the Yonhap news agency.
Historic tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang continue to rise as North Korea boasts of its developing nuclear capabilities. According to a South Korean analyst, Kim Jong Un's dictatorship could have about 100 pounds of plutonium and 600 pounds of highly enriched uranium in its arsenal.
In addition to bolstering defense capabilities, DAPA says the decision will also help the country's struggling shipbuilding industry.
Hanjin delivered two hovercraft landing ships to the South Korean government in 2007. In 2008, many shipyards in the country saw a sharp drop in orders as economic conditions waned around the world.
Hovercraft landing ships are air-cushioned vehicles used to transport weapons, cargo and military personnel through maritime environments. Additional operators include the armed forces in Japan and the United States.
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