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KDX-I Okpo class DDH (Destroyer Helicopter)

The Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) has embarked on a substantial shipbuilding program for its Korean Destroyer Experimental (KDX). It is a three-phased program consisting of three individual classes of ships: KDX-I (3800 tons) with Initial Operational Capability (IOC) of 1998, KDX-II (5000 tons) with IOC 2002, and KDX-III (probably 7000+ tons) with IOC 2007/2008. Each phase gets more ambitious with respect to ship size, sensors, and weapons. The KDX-1 program provided the basis on which the KDX-2 and KDX-3 will be built.

The Okpo class ships are classified as a Destroyer Helicopter (DDH), and are sometimes called KDX-1 or Kwanggaeto the Great class. When this class of ships commissioned, the ROK Navy took the first step towards the transition from a costal defense Navy to a bluewater Navy. Korea joined the list of customers for the APECS II system in 1994, when it decided to procure the system for its new Kwanggaeto-Daewang (KDX I) class frigates. To date, three systems have been installed. More frigates of this class were planned, 17-20 frigates, but a decision to focus efforts on improved KDX-II follow-on ships has terminated any further construction of the KDX I.

The King Kwanggaeto class Destroyer is a major surface combatant in range of about 95-140m. General mission is to conduct operations with strike, ASW, amphibious forces and to perform screening and convoy duties. This ship may have helicopters not especially fitted for ASW. This model of destroyer has its own defense capabilities, together with its outstanding performance in the battle. The 30-knot speed destroyer can track and destroy missiles as well as airplanes, warships, and submarines. This ship is a multi-purpose combatant which was equipped with advanced sensors and weapon systems. Additionally a wide variations of weapons, communications and propulsion were accommodated. KDX-I was designed as a Muli-purpose surface combat ship rather than specialized ASW ship.

All ships were built by the Daewoo Heavy Industries Co., Inc. at Koje, South Korea. In 1989, Daewoo Heavy Industries began work on the 4,000-ton destroyer which is now main destroyer of the Korean navy, and the achievement was made through DSME's 100% design engineering for the first time in Korea.

There are 3 KDX-I hulls, with the third hull commissioned in late 1999. Okpo Class Destroyer(KDX-1) was laid down at DAEWOO Okpo Shipbuilders in 1995-1996 and launched by 1998-1999. Originally it was planned to build up to 10 ships of this class, but the program was cut off at only 3 units in order to begin building KDX-2. ROKS Kwanggaeto the Great (DDH-971), the first ship of this class was launched on 28 October 1996 and commissioned 24 July 1998. ROKS Ulchimundok (DDH-972), the second ship and ROKS Yangmanchun (DDH-973), third ship were launched on October 1997 and September 1998, respectively.

The ship is equipped to be operated offensively in multi-threat environments either independently or as an integral member of a combat group. These extensive integrations of control and weapon systems enable the ship to meet any contingency of modern maritime warfare.

The ship is 135.4 meters long overall, maximum beam 14.2 meters and displaces around 3,900 tons. Propulsion is provided by General Electric gas turbines and MTU Diesel engines. The ship's propulsion system has total four main engines; two Gas turbines and two Diesel engines. The Diesel engines, which are called MTU 20V 956, are rated at 4,800 horse power and are used for cruising long distance at low speeds. The Gas turbine engines, Which are called LM-2500, are rated at 29,500 horse power and used for high speed operations. The ship also has two reduction gears to transmit high-propulsive power to propulsive shafts. The ship's monitoring and remote control consoles such as the propulsion control console, electric plant control console, damage control console and fire detection console are in the central control station.

The ROKN incorporated a wide variety of USN and European sensors, weapons, fire control, and propulsion components. They are equiped with 16 Seasparrow short range air defense missiles, 8 Harpoon SSMs, 1 OTO Melara 127mm gun, two 30mm Goalkeeper CIWS, two triple 324mm/12.75inch torpedo tubes, and up to two Super Lynx ASW helicopters. The large hangar and helo deck at the stern is able to support up to two helicopters, but there is no RAST (Recovery, Assist, Secure and Traverse system). This class of ships was the first ship equipped with SAM and CIWS in the ROK Navy. They will later be equipped with TASS (Towed Array Sonar System) for an ASW capability. The Nuclear, Biological and Chemical protection system is designed for crews to survive under a NBC warfare condition. The ship has four collective protection zones the crew to carry out their duties without wearing gasmasks.

The ship's combat system has the latest technology. with combined sensors, command and control system and weapons. These systems are linked to the Combat System Data Bus allowing all information to be shared and processed simultaneously in real time. Information processed by highly technologic computers is displayed to the warfare officers and tactical picture supervisors allowing them to make quick decisions during a tactical situations. The automatic assessment of possible threats and assignment of weapons are provided to the commanding officer. Fire control systems such as the Harpoon command console, multi-function operators console and weapon control console can be operated by the integration of the Command control systems or by commander's decision independently.

The USN has sold a substantial amount of materials and technical support for the KDX-I and KDX-II ships. Of the US purchases, most were via FMS although some were via DCS. The most significant FMS cases accepted for the 3 KDX-I Destroyers to date are Mk 48 Mod 2 GMVLS with RIM-7P NATO Seasparrow Missile and AN/SWG-1A(V) Harpoon Launcher with Harpoon Missiles. For the three KDX-I destroyers Thales Naval Nederland [TNNL] provided MW08 medium range surveillance, target acquisition and tracking radars, STIR tracking and illuminations radars, Multifunction Operator Consoles and Goalkeeper Close-in Weapon Systems.

The Joint U.S. Military Advisor Group-Korea (JUSMAG-K) reported in 1999 that the King Kwang-gaeto achieved a direct hit on the target after a 14 second time of flight of their first ever vertically launched Sea Sparrow from a KDX I ship.

Okpo class ships were named for historical king and general name. Kwanggaeto the Great was a king of Kogulye one of kingdom the period of the Three States. He enlarged territory through conquest wars. Also Ulchimundok and Yangmanchun were a General of Kogulye, and they defended the Kingdom from the invasion of China.




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