Hyundai Heavy Industries launches first KDX-III Batch 2 destroyer

South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has launched the lead ship for the second and improved batch of three Sejong Daewang (KDX-III)-class guided-missile destroyers being built for the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN).

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on 28 July that the new KDX-III Batch II destroyer, the future ROKS Jeongjo Daewang, was launched at HHI’s facilities in Ulsan.

The vessel displaces approximately 8,300 tonnes and has an overall length of 170 metres and beam of 21 metres. According to DAPA, Batch II vessels will be equipped with an undisclosed ballistic missile defence (BMD) system – believed to be the US-made Aegis Combat System – and features improved anti-submarine warfare capabilities over the 7,600 tonne Batch I ships.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) earlier announced in October 2018 that Lockheed Martin had been awarded a US$365.7 million Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract to provide three next-generation RoKN guided-missile destroyers with the Baseline K2 version of the Aegis Combat System. The US subsequently approved a US$313.9 million FMS contract to South Korea for a further batch of Raytheon Standard Missile-2 Medium Range (SM-2MR) Block IIIB surface-to-air missiles.

South Korea has also expressed interest in Raytheon’s Standard Missile-6 (SM-6), which are expected to be budgeted for between 2023 and 2031.

The KDX-III Batch II destroyers will reportedly be equipped with up to 88 vertical launch system (VLS) cells, which would contain a mix of US- and Korean-made missiles. Besides the aforementioned weapons, the ships will also carry the LIG Nex1 Haegung (Sea Bow) Korean Surface to Air Anti Missile (K-SAAM), SSM-700K Haeseong (Sea Star) surface-to-surface missile and also the Hong Sang Eo (Red Shark) Korean Anti-Submarine Rocket (K-ASROC) system.

HHI was awarded a US$565 million contract by DAPA in October 2019 to build Jeongjo Daewang, with delivery to the RoKN expected by November 2024. The KDX-III Batch II programme is expected to cost South Korea around US$3.3 billion.

by Jr Ng