KDX-II Chungmugong Yi Sunshin Destroyer

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. As of 2000 planning was for three KDX-I class, six KDX-II, and at least one KDX-III class ships. The USN has sold a substantial amount of materials and technical support for the KDX-I and KDX-II ships.

Under the KDX shipbuilding program that began in the 1980s, South Korea has deployed three 3,000-ton KDX-I light destroyers of the Gwanggaeto the Great class and six 4,300-ton KDX-II stealthy destroyers of the Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin class. Admiral Yi of the Joseon Kingdom defeated Japanese invaders between 1592 and 1598.

KDX-II are a 5000-ton class ship, with a hull design licensed from Germany's IABG, and a total of 6 KDX-II hulls were planned. There are some similarities with the preceding KDX-I destroyers, but at 4,800 tons the KDX-II displace nearly a thousand tons more. KDX-II reopened all major USN systems for consideration, including sonars, radars, launchers, fire control, etc. These include the Mk 41 Vertical Launch Sys-tem, Harpoon Launcher and Missile, Mk 46 Mod 5 Torpedo (VLA version), Weapon Di-rection System Mk 14, OT-134 CWI Radar Il-luminator, GE-LM2500 Gas Turbines, AN/SPS-49 Radar, RAM Launcher and Mis-sile, and 5-inch Gun Mk 45 Mod 4 with Ex-tended Range Guided Munition (ERGM). In the Mk 41 VLS, ROKN wants capability for SM-2 Block IIIA, possibly VLA, and possibly NSSMS RIM-7P missiles or ESSM, when available.

Letters of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) for three 32-cell Mk 41 VLS and three ship sets of WDS Mk 14 and OT-134 have been accepted. LOAs for two Harpoon Launchers had also been accepted. For the Harpoon Launchers, DSCA authorized waiver of collection of the NRC charge. In addition, LOAs have been accepted for three AN/SPS-49(V)5. An LOA for the RAM Missile was provided, but not yet accepted, and a re-statement was in progress as of August 2000. The DCS sale for the RAM Launcher is complete. P&A for Standard Missile SM-2 Block IIIA has been provided; LOA preparation is in process. DCS sale of the 5-inch Gun is completed. A particular selling point with ROKN for the 5-inch Gun with ERGM is its vastly improved capability for naval surface gunfire support to ROK Army troops.

The most significant development in 1998 in American FMS relations with Korea was the decision to press forward with on-time development of the KDX-II Destroyer program. Due to budget constraints, Korea had to carefully prioritize which programs to support. KDX-II development was selected as the Korean Navy's most important program. Korea signed acceptance of major FMS cases for Mk 41 VLS and other shipboard systems supporting the Standard Missile SM-2. This will result in a very high U.S. Navy content of the combat systems on board the KDX-II, which will promote interoperability, commonality for maintenance, and a closer long-term relationship between the ROK and US navies.

In early 2000 the Republic of Korea Navy chose the Raytheon Mk 31 Mod 1 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) system for its new KDX-II destroyer program. RAM will provide the KDX II with the middle layer of its layered defence against anti-ship missiles. The Block 1 version recently completed its US Navy operational test program and has received approval for full-rate production. Following a multi-stage competitive selection process, the US missile was selected over two competing systems, the Israel Aircraft Industries Barak and the Thomson-CSF Crotale VT-1. South Korea is the third country to purchase the RAM weapon system, which is developed and produced co-operatively by the US and Germany. Under a direct commercial sale contract, Raytheon is to deliver RAM Block 1 21-round launcher systems beginning in 2001, plus logistics, technical and integration services. The RIM-116A missiles needed to arm the destroyers will be procured at a later date under a separate contract.

Kia Heavy Industries Corp was awarded a licensed co-production contract to United Defense LP for three Mk45 Mod 4, 5-in/62 caliber lightweight gun systems. The deal, which is worth about $22 million, also includes technical assistance, training and spares. The delivery of the first Mk45 Mod 4 will be in 2001, while the last in 2003. The gun systems will be installed on the first three South Korean KDX-2 destroyers being built in the country.

Alenia Marconi Systems was awarded a contract worth more than 35 million for the supply of three Command and Control (C2) systems, in support of the Republic of Korea Navy's KDX-II destroyer programme. Samsung Thales Corporation (STC) in Seoul, who have awarded the contract, has been a Korean industrial partner with AMS on the KDX programmes since 1994. The KDX-11 C2 system comprises ten operator consoles. Previously, AMS had delivered similar systems for KDX-I and KDX-II Batch-I destroyers.

In 2001 DAVIS Engineering International Inc. was awarded contracts by both Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) and Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) to supply Infrared Signature Suppression equipment for the new Korean Destroyer (KDX II). All engine exhausts (propulsion and electric power generating) will be suppressed. Delivery of the first shipset of hardware was made in September of 2001. Previous to the hardware contracts, DAVIS was also awarded a contract by DSME to provide Engineering Support for both infrared and radar signatures during the detailed design of the KDX II. The modeling and analysis work performed under this contract will ensure that the signature targets will be realized during the detailed design and construction phases of the ship program. The RCS related work was subcontracted to IABG (Germany). DSME has adopted a very rigorous approach to the design and construction of the KDX II. Detailed IR and RCS models of the ship will continually be upgraded and analyzed based on the progression of both the detailed design and manufacture of the ship. This process will ensure that the final ship configuration will meet the established signature specifications.

Deliveries of the first three destroyers of the KDX-II program were done as Batch I, with proposals for the second batch of three destroyers approved. KDX-II batch 1 & batch 2 includes indigenous systems including KVLS and KVLA. KDX-II was planned to the test platform for KDX-III systems. Speculation that the class may be reduced to 3 ships in favor of the larger KDX III design proved unfounded. Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) Co., Ltd. received orders for the basic design of the Korean Navy's KDX-II destroyers in 1996. The lead and third ship were built by DSME at its shipyard in Keoje-City and the second of class was built by HHI at its shipyard in Ulsan. Initially the KDX-II was equipped with one 32-cell Mk41 VLS, 1 Mk45 Mod4 gun, 1 RAM, 1 Goalkeeper, 8 SSMs and also had a space reserved for land-attack cruise missiles. Its fire control radars consist of two STIR240 with Raytheon OT-134A CWI transmitters bolted on. On the 4th unit, ROKS Wang Geon, the 32-cell Mk 41 VLS is moved to the left and an indigenous VLS for a "Korean VLA" is installed on the right. The ship's forward part is spacious enough to take a 64-cell Mk 41 VLS.

The first of these 4,000 ton-class destroyers, designed and built by South Korean engineers, was launched on 22 May 2002 at a shipyard off the southern island of Geoje. It was deployed in late 2003 after a one-year trial period. It was the first vessel developed under the Navy's KDX-II destroyer program. Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., Ltd. built the ship. The destroyer, which is 150 meters long and 17 meters wide, set a precedent for battle ships to accommodate female soldiers with facilities exclusively built for them. So far, no female soldier has served in the Navy's combat ship.

The vessel was named "Choongmoogong Yi Soon Shin" after a much-respected admiral during the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910). The legendary Yi, who is often compared to, or known better than British Adm. Horatio Nelson, won fame for defeating the invading Japanese in southern waters during the Hideyoshi Invasion (1592-1598). Choongmoogong was the name given to the great admiral Yi Soon-Sin of the Lee Dynasty. In the annals of traditional Korean history, Yi Soon-Sin stands out as one of the greatest commanders of all time. He entered the military at the age of 31 and from very early on displayed aptitude of leadership and strategic awareness. He was appointed Commander of the Jeolla-do Naval station at Yeosu in 1591. He immediately set about building up the naval defence of the area by repairing weapons, warships and training their crews.

He had the famous Kobukson or turtle ship huilt on the model of a 15th century ship but with added firepower and speed. These are believed to have been the first ironclad warships. Plated with iron, they were covered with numerous spikes that were concealed with mats, which made enemy hoarding very difficult and dangerous. Another interesting fact was that the bow (front) of the ship were fitted with large menacing dragons heads that actually pored smoke and fumes. This not only created terror for the enemy but also provided it useful smoke screen to conceal tactical movement.

In the fourth-lunar month of 1592, Japan invaded it very unprepared Korea and quickly reached Seoul. The royal court was forced to flee and at this point. Admiral Yi fought it series of navel hattles in swift succession. Despite being greatly outnumbered he won them all and nearly wiped out the entire Japanese fleet. On the 18th day of the 11th lunar month, 500 Japanese ships gathered in the strait of Noryamg to return to Japan. Reinforced by the Ming Chinese fleet, the Koreans attacked the retreating Japanese.

At the height of the battle, a stray enemy bullet struck Yi Sun-sin. Calling his son and nephew who served under him. to his side. he said "Do not weep, do not announce my death. Beat the drum and blow the trumpet. Wave the flag to advance. We are still fighting, finish the enemy to the last one." More than 200 Japanese ships were sunk or destroyed in the battle. Koreans young and old are very, proud of Admiral Yi Sun-sin not only because he was it great naval commander and military strategist, but because he was a man of upright character and unquestionable loyalty to the nation despite personal hardship and unimaginable odds. Yi insisted that the only way to save one's life was to risk it for ones beloved country. He not only helieved this hut displayed it from the front of battle (indomitable spirit). In his honor, he was given a number of posthumous titles, one of which included Choong mu gong - Lord of Loyal Valor, given by King Injo in 1643.

The Navy on 11 April 2003 launched its second 4,500-ton destroyer "Munmu the Great" a domestically produced warship utilizing state-of-the-art stealth technology. A launching ceremony was held at Hyundai Heavy Industries dockyard in Ulsan with the attendance of President Roh Moo-hyun, Defense Minister Cho Young-kil and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Moon Jung-il. "The grand spectacle of `Moonmu the Great' symbolizes the nation's military science technology and its willingness to be self-reliant in national defense," President Roh said in his commemorative speech. "(From here) we will be able to advance into the era of 7,000-ton destroyers with the Aegis combat system." The vessel, the second of the Navy's three KDX-II warships, is 150 meters long and 17.4 meters wide. It carries Harpoon anti-ship missiles, SM-II and RAM anti-aircraft missiles, and LYNX anti-submarine helicopters. In particular, its improved stealth and anti-submarine functions are designed to ensure modern warfare capabilities, officials said. Its maximum speed is 29 knots and its cruising speed is 18 knots. The destroyer, which was to be deployed in 2004 after a year of test operations, was named after a king in the 7th century of the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C.-A.D.935). The tomb of the Munmu the Great is the only underwater royal grave in the world.

In November 2003 South Korea's navy launched its third 4,000 ton-class stealth destroyer Wednesday in Okpo, some 480 kilometers southeast of Seoul. The domestically built 4,375-ton ship, equipped with a range of high-tech weaponry, was set afloat at a shipyard in Okpo, the navy said in a news releases on Wednesday. The ship, dubbed Daejoyoung, the founder of ancient Korean kingdom Balhae, was the third destroyer the navy had developed under its program code-named KDX-II.

On March 16, 2006 the Navy's fifth 4,000 ton-class destroyer equipped with radar-evading stealth technology was set afloat. Named after a military commander of the early Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392), the "Gang Gam Chan," was developed under the Navy's shipbuilding program codenamed, "KDX-II." She would be declared operational in the second half 2007 after an 18-month trial.

The government planned to build a mobile naval fleet by 2012, which ultimately consist of six 4,200-ton destroyers, three 7,000-ton destroyers with Aegis combat system and other submarines and combat support vessels. By the year 2020, the ROK Navy plans to deploy two or three rapid response fleets, each comprising of 1 LPX, 1 KDX-III, 2~3 KDX-II, and possibly a number of FFX frigates and one or two AIP submarines. As of mid-2004 the ROK government was considering expanding the KD-2 fleet to a class of up to 12 ships, up from the original 3. Daewoo almost certainly get the contract for this expansion, if approved.

Join the mailing list