FFX Future Frigate
A new FFX is a planned class to replace Ulsan and other smaller frigates. The forthcoming frigate, designed for anti-ship, anti-submarine and anti-aircraft warfare, will feature incomparable seakeeping and maneuverability. Advanced design concept affords wide option for weapon combination and convenient maintenance. The ROKN planned to deploy a total of nine 2,500 ton class frigates by 2018. As of 2007 the delivery of one ship per year was slated to begin from 2010-2018.
The Ulsan, the first frigate possessed by the ROK Navy deployed in 1981, thereby being 26 years old by 2007, the same classes of which had not been constructed since the building of Cheongju-ham in 1993. By 2007 a total of 9 ships of the class were currently being operated. Patrol frigates are also 14~25 years old so that the future frigates (FFX) are to be constructed to replace existing Ulsan class frigates (FF) and Donghae/Pohang class combat patrol craft corvette (PCC) by 2020. Existing frigates had demerits in that they are weak in anti-air defense and cannot load helicopters. The new ships will realize localization of a detection sensor for performance improvement, increased anti-air warfare capability, and availability of helicopters to improve flexibility in anti-submarine warfare capacity and mission capability.
In late 2006 the Republic of Korea Navy selected Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) as the preferred designer for the Future Frigate (FFX) program. The timeline for the FFX Program was as follows:
- Request for Proposals for construction issued to HHI by early 2007;
- A construction contract award in 2008;
- The first six units (Phase 1) built through 2015, with the first unit being commissioned in 2011;
- Phase 2: Nine ships built from 2015-2023;
- Phase 3: Nine ships built from 2021-2028, completing the class at 24 units.
Initially the new frigates were planned to have the following subsystems:
- Indigenous 3D radar similar to the SMART-S Mk2;
- Two Ceros 200 multisensor directors;
- Indigenous sonar;
- Eight SSM-700K surface-to-surface missiles;
- One Rolling Airframe Missile launcher;
- One 76mm gun;
- One Korean Close-in Weapon System;
- Korean lightweight torpedoes.
In February 2007 Thales Underwater Systems was awarded a contract from STX Engine CO Ltd, Republic of Korea, for an industrial cooperation aiming at the full scale development of a new Hull Mounted Sonar (HMS) for the FFX frigate program to replace the Ulsan Class. The contract covers an industrial cooperation for design, development and manufacturing of the antenna and dome for HMS sonar, with final contract completion in 2009. Thales Underwater Systems has been a major force in the development of advanced anti-submarine warfare sonar systems for more than 40 years during which time it has established a leading position in medium frequency HMS design. The HMS is a high power and high performance keel mounted sonar, its design is largerly based on the Thales off-the-shelf products. The high performance HMS is the result of continuous efforts and improvements in the sonar domain resulting in a smart sonar system adopted by many navies.
On 26 December 2008 Hyundai Heavy Industries was awarded a contract to build the lead ship of thenew 2,300 ton-class frigates to begin service in 2011. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) signed the contract worth about 140 billion won with Hyundai, which had been in charge of the basic design of the state-of-the-art frigate. The first six FFX ships were to be built by 2015 to replace the current nine Ulsan class frigates in service. According to one report, the Navy wants to launch a total of 24 to 27 FFX vessels by 2020 as part of efforts to bolster its coastal defense operations.
Preliminary designs indicated the new frigates would be around 335 feet in length with a cruising speed of 18 knots. The FFX, with a full load displacement of 3,200 tons, will carry a Lynx anti-submarine helicopter. It will have a crew of 170 and sail at a top speed of 32 knots. Its operational range is 4,500 nautical miles. The ship will have conventional diesel/gasoline propulsion.
The FFX is expected to help strengthen the Navy's littoral operations regarding anti-air, anti-ship and detection capabilities as it will carry various indigenous or newly developed technology, such as combat command systems, 3D search radar and towed array sonar. The ship's sensors are mainly Korean products, ranging from hull-mounted ASW sonar that want into development not too long ago and a TASS. Several versions of the 3D radar is being considering, including the MFR on K-MSAM system and enlarged version of the 3D pencil-beam radar developed for the PKM-X. The ship will be armed with light torpedoes and anti-ship missiles as well as a 127mm gun, they said. It will also be equipped with RAM Mk 31 guided missiles and a 30-mm ``Goalkeeper'' system for engaging incoming sea-skimming anti-ship missiles. No surface-to-air missiles and anti-submarine missiles or vertical missile launching system were initially planned. In the future, a naval version of K-MSAM (40km range) missile system along with the K-ASROC SUM may be offered in the VLS upgrade.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|