senior South Korean lawmaker has said the country should reconsider proposals for acquiring either light or medium aircraft carriers with Catapult Assisted Take-Off Barrier Arrested Recovery, or CATOBAR, configurations to respond to growing regional security threats. These were alternatives to South Korea's reported decision to purchase a number of large amphibious assault ships capable of supporting fixed-wing short takeoff and vertical landing combat jets, namely the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. This call for reassessing that choice comes as the South Korean Ministry of Defense may be leaning toward acquiring 20 more conventional F-35A models rather than B variants, further deferring plans to develop a fixed-wing naval aviation capability.
Choi Jae Sung, a member of South Korea's leading Democratic Party, who reportedly has a close relationship with President Moon Jae In, made his pitch for buying more traditional aircraft carriers in a white paper that the National Assembly's National Defense Commission on the Navy and Air Force distributed earlier this year, according to South Korean newspaper Money Today. On Oct. 7, 2019, the country's Defense Acquisition Program Administration told the National Assembly that the Ministry of Defense was planning to spend approximately $3.3 billion on around 20 new F-35s, but did not specify the variant, according to Defense News.