Home Asia Pacific South Korea receives final upgraded KDX-I destroyer Eulji Mundeok

South Korea receives final upgraded KDX-I destroyer Eulji Mundeok

ROKS Eulji Mundeok (DDH 972) completes destroyer upgrade project
US Navy file photo of ROKS Eulji Mundeok (DDH 972) underway off the Korean Peninsula

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.