South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) marked the official start of construction of the first Gwanggaeto-III (KDX-III) Batch II Aegis destroyer for the Republic of Korea Navy with a steel cutting ceremony on February 16.
The ship will be the first of three units in the class featuring improved combat systems. The “next-generation” Aegis destroyers are based on the three Sejong the Great-class destroyers (KDX-III) that were built between 2007 and 2011.
HHI received a contract for the first of the Batch II ships in October 2019. A total of three ships will be built before South Korea focuses on the “Korea Next-Generation Destroyer” program which will build six smaller destroyers, but with exclusively Korean weapon systems and sensors.
KDX-III Batch II ships will be 170 meters long, displace 8,100 tons and have a maximum speed of 30 knots. They will carry 5-inch guns, anti-ship missiles, and torpedoes. Like the Batch I ships, the Batch II is expected to field 128-cell vertical launch systems that can launch a multitude of missiles, including the locally-developed Hyunmoo-3C land-attack missiles and K-ASROC anti-submarine rockets. HHI says the Batch II will also have improved anti-submarine warfare capabilities.
According to the shipbuilder, the lead Batch II ship will enter the water in the second half of 2022, when it will begin trials and evaluation before delivery by November 2024.