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South Korea to Develop WIG's

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From Defense Aerospace


Korea to Develop Super-Fast Flying Boats

(Source: Korea Information Service; issued June 23, 2005)


The Korean government plans to invest 170 billion won to develop a large-sized watercraft that can cruise at a maximum speed of 250 kilometers per hour just above water, starting 2006.


It will also spend about 70 billion won to establish an Antarctic research center by 2011, in addition to the existing King Sejong Station.


The ambitious plans were endorsed on Thursday (June 23) at a meeting of science-related ministers, presided over by Science-Technology Minister Oh Myung.


To build watercraft, called wing-in-ground (WIG) vehicle with a loading capacity of 100 tons of cargoes, the government will channel 85 billion won in the project and hopes to attract as much from private companies.


“We aim to earn 4.15 trillion won by exporting 83 WIG craft from 2010 through 2019. We expect this scheme to provide Korean shipbuilders with next-generation growth engines,” Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries director Yeon Yeong-jin said.


Yeon said local shipbuilders, such as Samsung Heavy Industries, Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction and STX, showed interest in the project.


WIG vehicles, which look like airplanes, skim 1 to 5 meters above water at a speed of exceeding 200 kilometers per hour, a speed unmatched by traditional vessels.


The watercraft are expected to revolutionize the transportation business by offering large-volume services that are cheaper than aircrafts and faster than conventional freighters.


Russia first tried to develop the WIG vessels in the 1960s for military purposes and the United States, Japan and Korea followed suit.


However, their targets have been relatively small passenger ships and no country has ever come up with a plan to manufacture large-sized watercraft.


“Korea will be able to preempt the lucrative future market by commercializing large-sized cargo WIG vessels for the first time in the world,” Yeon said.

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