South Korea’s defense procurement agency DAPA announced on December 28 that the final of three KDX-I destroyers to undergo the first-ever locally-managed capability upgrade was handed over to the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN).
Gwanggaeto the Great-class destroyer ROKS Eulji Mundeok (DDH-972) was re-delivered to the fleet on Tuesday, in a ceremony at the Jinhae naval base in Gyongsangnam-do.
The three-ship upgrade program included the installation of a new towed array sonar system for improved anti-submarine capabilities. A new locally-developed combat system was also installed, and will provide more capabilities compared to the ones previously employed by the destroyers. A greater share of indigenous technologies now featured on the ships will ensure reduced maintenance times and cost in their third decade of service.
ROKS Eulji Mundeok was re-delivered to the navy just three months after the second ship in the class, ROKS Gwanggaeto the Great (DDG 971), completed the upgrade in October this year.
ROKS Yang Man-Chun, the youngest of the three ships in the class, was also the first to undergo the inaugural surface warship improvement project to be completed by DAPA. Yang Man-Chun re-entered service in September 2020.
“By delivering ROKS Eulji Mundeok, to the navy, we have successfully carried out the first performance improvement project for the navy’s surface ships,” Geuk-cheol Bang, a DAPA official, commented.
“Based on our experience in the KDX-I performance improvement project, we will do our best to enhance the navy’s power by carrying out future performance improvement projects such as the Dokdo-class performance improvement project without any setbacks.”
Indigenously-developed by DSME in the 1990s, KDX-I destroyers marked the ROK Navy’s transition from a coastal to a blue-water navy. As noted by DAPA, they are the first South Korean warships to incorporate anti-aircraft, anti-ship, and anti-submarine operation capabilities in a single platform.
They are succeeded by Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin class and Sejong the Great-class destroyers, the service’s first surface warfare assets equipped with the Aegis combat systems.
The country is currently also working a second batch of the Sejong the Great-class, or KDX-III Batch II, destroyers, with construction on the first ship already underway.