South Korea to launch its most powerful destroyer this month

Although the conflict occurred in the Russia-Ukraine region, it has effected other parts of the world, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. The situation here is becoming tenser and tenser. Asian countries are busy inducting new weapons rapidly because of China’s aggression and provocation.

India’s domestic aircraft carrier is about to enter service soon in august, and Japan’s “JS Kaga” helicopter carrier has also entered the upgrade stage to be modified into a aircraft carrier, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year or early next year. Once the new aircraft carriers of India and Japan are successfully commissioned, both countries will enter the era of “dual aircraft carriers”, which may make the situation in the Asia-Pacific even more tense with their relations with China.

It is not only India and Japan that are actively develop their maritime power, but South Korea is also accelerating its naval power. Recently, South Korean Navy officials has revealed that the Korean Navy’s “Jeongjo The Great” destroyer will be launched in July this year, with a large displacement of 12,000 tons. It is a very large destroyer. You must know that South Korea’s shipbuilding strength is very strong, so the world is curious about the features of this new South Korean warship, so what are the strengths of this warship, and how does it ranks in Asia.

From the appearance point of view, this big ship very much different from its predecessor “Sejong the Great class destroyer”. The design and some technologies of the U.S. Navy “Arleigh Burke” destroyer are used on these ships but this time the ship used stealth design. However, the displacement of the “Jeongjo King” has been significantly improved, which has now reached 12,000 tons. In addition, the ship has also upgraded the “Aegis system”, also the vertical missile system has got some modifications.

The KDX-III Batch II will be fitted with SM-2 Block IIIB as well and, possibly, the new SM-6 “multi-mission missile” capable of long-range Fleet Air Defense, Sea-Based Terminal defense, and Anti-Surface Warfare. The decision to procure SM-6 has not been made yet and will depend on budget. South Korea may also replace the US-made “RAM” with South Korea’s Homemade “Sea Bow anti-air missile”. It can be easily seen that the South Korean Navy is working hard to develop advanced technologies in domestic shipbuilding.

According to our South Korean sources, the KDX III Batch II ships will feature a total of 88 vertical launch system (VLS) cells:

  • 48x Mk41 VLS for US-made missiles
  • 16x K-VLS
  • 24x K-VLS II

K-VLS will be used to deploy K-SAAM (Korean Surface to Air Anti Missile), replacing the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM). It features inertial mid-course guidance and a dual microwave and infrared homing seeker for terminal guidance. K-VLS will also deploy Hong Sang Eo (Red Shark) rocket-based torpedo (K-ASROC) and Haeryong Tactical Surface Launch Missile (TSLM) land attack cruise missile.

Lockheed Martin is in charge of delivering the AN/SPY-1D(V) multi-function radar as well as the AEGIS combat system for the KDX III Batch II ship. Talking to Naval News during MADEX 2019, Lockheed Martin representatives explained that the destroyers would get the Aegis Baseline 9.C2 derivative with software variant “KII” and BMD baseline 5, which allows the use of SM-3 Block IB. As of October 2019, the radar arrays for the first KDX III Batch II were already in production. The radar arrays and combat system will be tested in New Jersey in 2021 before delivery to South Korea.

However, judging from the data of the new warship, it may still be in the stage of transforming the “Arleigh Burke” class and has not yet been completed, and there are at least three major defects. First, there is nothing new in the design. Athough the new warship is much more advanced than the previous Sejong Class ships. Also although it is a new ship, it has not yet escaped the influence of the U.S. “Arleigh Burke” class. But ofcourse South Korea is trying hard to develop more and more new technologies for its warships.

Second, the stealth performance of the ship is not excellent, and there is a lack of integrated radio frequency and integrated mast technology. It must be known that the mast is the highest point of the warship and one of the main parts of the reflected radar wave. In order to improve the stealth of the warship, it is necessary to simplify its design, rearrange the position of the antenna, and integrate the antenna systems with different functions. Integrated radio frequency technology is required, and an integrated mast can be designed after integration, which greatly improves the stealth of warships.

Third, the ship’s vertical launch system is incompatible. The “Sejong the Great” has a full 128 vertical launching units, but the “Sejong the Great” has only 88, and these 88 units need to launch 3 types of missiles. You must know that the more and more complicated the vertical launch system is, the more problems will erupt.

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