The South Korean Navy’s combat capability is likely to increase significantly as three of its KDX-1 class destroyers have undergone major upgrades.
After an elaborate program focused on combat-specific improvements, the last improved destroyer was secured by the South Korean Navy. The new addition is seen as a much needed break for the Navy.
The South Korean Navy has acquired the last of three modified Gwanggaeto Daewang-class destroyers (KDX-1), the Eulji Mundeok, marking the end of a performance improvement project, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA ), Naval Today reported.
The ship was handed over to the Navy on December 28 after receiving increased combat capabilities, as previously reported. In 2018, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME), a South Korean shipbuilder, won a contract to refurbish and repair three KDX-I class destroyers.
According to the DAPA, the 3,200-ton destroyers have had their combat systems and sensors modernized after having served as command ships since 2016. The destroyers now have a domestic combat system.
“By delivering the Eulji Mundeok to the Navy as the final vessel of the KDX-I performance improvement project, we have completed the Navy’s first surface vessel performance improvement project,” said said Geuk-cheol Bang, head of the DAPA.
The first KDX-I destroyer, the Yang Manchun, was refitted in September and the second ship, the Gwanggaeto the Great, returned to service in October. With the return of Eulji Mundeok, the program is officially over.
The destroyer now has a national combat system with improved combat command capabilities as a result of the upgrade. It has also been fitted with the Towed Array Sonar system, which improves detection and tracking of underwater targets, according to Naval Technology.
Republic of #Korea warships participating in the 3-aircraft carrier strike force demonstration in the sea of japan include #destructors #SEJONG LE GRAND (991) and EULJI MUNDEOK (972) pic.twitter.com/zDIbJEUsWE
– Chris Cavas (@CavasShips) November 13, 2017
Meanwhile, as KDX-1 destroyers have been returned to its navy after upgrades, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), a South Korean shipbuilder, has already started work on the first Sejong the Great-class. (KDX-III) modernized Navy. II guided missile destroyer.
The ROK Navy’s Gwanggaeto the Great-class destroyers, also known as the KDX-I, are classified by some as frigates. This was the first phase of the KDX program, which aimed to transform the Navy from a coastal defense force into a high seas force.
The KDX-I was intended to replace the obsolete destroyers delivered by the US Navy to Korea in the 1950s and 1960s. After the ship’s launch, there was a significant increase in South Korean international engagement in the fight against piracy and military operations.
The Super Lynx helicopter, which works in tandem with on-board sensors to search for and destroy submarines at great distances from ships, is Gwanggaeto’s primary weapon.
The Mark 46 torpedoes, launched from triple torpedo tubes into launch compartments on either side of the forward end of the helicopter hangar, are a close range anti-submarine weapon carried by these destroyers.
The RGM-84 Harpoon surface-to-surface missile, located in two quadruple launch tubes at the main deck between the chimney and the helicopter hangar, provides a secondary anti-ship system.
South Korea’s Blue Water Fleet
The South Korean Navy is expanding to build a full-fledged Blue Water Fleet, rather than focusing primarily on the danger of its neighbor to the north, according to USNI News.
The service is strengthening its surface fleet and increasing the capacity of its submarines with the help of two major shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) in Ulsan and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Mechanical Engineering (DSME) in Okpo. The aim is to provide more firepower and to carry out broader regional engagements.
According to independent defense researcher Professor Kim Jae Yeop, “The ROK’s long-standing goal of becoming a high seas navy is based on the idea that the security challenge of the country will not be limited to existing threats from the North over the longer term. future. ”He says this view is reinforced by the geopolitical situation of South Korea, which is surrounded by important nations such as China and Japan.
In addition to the upgraded KDX-I, the current KDX-II fleet, and the KDX-III under construction, the Navy intends to build a fourth class of destroyers.
From the mid-2020s, the Korean Navy aims to acquire six more destroyers referred to as KDDX or KDX-IV. These destroyers, which are expected to weigh between 6,000 and 8,000 tons, will fill the gap between the 10,000-ton KDX-III and the older 4,200-ton KDX-II.
These additional ships will be smaller versions of the KDX-III and will provide critical mass to the fleet in times of maritime conflict while enhancing air defense capabilities with multi-function radar.
A Blue Water Navy is a maritime force that has the capability to operate on a global scale, particularly in the deep waters of open oceans. South Korea’s New Medium-Term Defense Plan (MDPP) 2021-2025, which was released in late 2020, reaffirmed this shift towards larger expeditionary operations.