KDX-III Sejong 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 (7000-9000 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.

KDX-III was to be a larger (7000 tons or greater), more "Aegis-like" ship (Aegis Combat System with the ship incorporating certain Low Observables (LO/CLO) technology). The KDX-III' standard displacement is 7,000t, while its full load displacement would be above 9,000t.

Three or four KDX-III hulls were expected. After the first ship was completed in 2008, the ministry expected to deploy two other KDX- III destroyers in 2010 and 2012, respectively. By one estimate each vessel will cost about 1.2 trillion won ($923 million). The entire project, including the ships themselves, is expected to cost 2.8 trillion won by other estimates. The ROK KDX-III destroyer is intended to be a multi-purpose destroyer featuring anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and tactical ballistic missile defense capabilities.

This platform will enable the ROKN to successfully defend the maritime areas around the Korean peninsula from air, surface, and subsurface threats, and will increase interoperability with the USN.

The Republic of Korea Ministry of Defense announced on Oct. 25, 2001, that Thales Naval Nederland was one of the two final candidates selected for the combat system of the KDX-III Destroyer program for the ROK Navy. The other candidate is Lockheed Martin. The selection was for the second phase of the procurement process, referred to as the Test & Evaluation and Negotiation phase. Other combat systems that were being considered by the ROKN were Sampson (British Aerospace) and APAR (Signaal).

Thales Naval Nederland has offered a different solution for the combat system, the APAR Combat System. The combat system proposed by Thales Naval Nederland for the KDX-III destroyer programme includes the APAR multifunction radar, the SMART-L volume search radar, the SIRIUS infrared search and track system (IRST), MIRADOR tracking and observation system, as well as the combat direction system with associated software and interfaces to other equipment, including the combat system integration responsibility with respect to GFE. The ROK Navy was clearly considering both solutions. Final selection by the ROK MND was anticipated in June 2002.

On 18 March 2002, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of the possible sale of three Lockheed Martin Aegis air defence systems, worth a potential US$1.2 billion, to arm the Republic of Korea Navy's three new KDX-III destroyers. Aegis is very important for KDX-III. The ROKN is made a very strong effort to purchase the Aegis Combat System (baseline 7 phase 1) for KDX-III. The destroyer has been referred to as Aegis Destroyer, after Lockheed Martin's Aegis system. However, this was just one of the possible combat system solutions.

Lockheed Martin was selected by South Korea to supply the Aegis system for the next generation of Korean destroyers. Lockheed Martin was selected over the French company which supplied the country's existing destroyers. On 25 July 2002 Lockheed Martin won the contract to provide South Korea's navy with weapons control systems for three destroyers, beating European rival Thales SA. The Korean Navy selected the U.S Navy and Lockheed Martin to provide the Aegis Weapon System for its KDX-III Destroyer Program in late 2002. The three KDX-III Destroyers, equipped with the Aegis Weapon System, will allow the Korean Navy to successfully defend the maritime areas around the Korean Peninsula from air, surface and underwater threats. In addition, the KDX-III Destroyers will increase interoperability with the U.S. Navy.

The first vessel was scheduled to be operational in the year 2008. The Hyundai Heavy Industries Shipyard was working on the basic design of the platform, but the actual decision who is going to build the three vessels won't be taken until 2003/2004 after competition. The candidates were Hyundai Heavy Industries, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and Hanjin Heavy Industries.

On 06 June 2003 Lockheed Martin, Naval Electronics and Surveillance Systems, Moorestown, N.J., was awarded a $267,447,827 cost-plus-award-fee letter contract for Aegis weapon system engineering in support of the Republic of Korea foreign military sales program. The Republic of Korea competitively selected the U.S. Navy/Lockheed Martin Aegis combat system (ACS) for its KDX-III shipbuilding program. The requirements include the necessary combat systems engineering, computer program development, ship integration and test support to deliver a variant of the U.S. Navy Aegis weapon system Baseline 7 Phase I computer program and equipment to support the construction of the first Korean ship in the KDX-III class. In addition, this contract funds an integrated test team to assist the Korean shipyard in performing installation and testing of the ACS. Work will be performed in Moorestown, N.J. (62%); Falls Church, Va. (12%); Korea (10%); Norway (10%); and Washington, D.C. (1%), and is expected to be completed by December 2008. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-03-C-5102).

On 29 June 2004 Lockheed Martin, Maritime Systems and Sensors (LM MS2), Moorestown, N.J., was awarded a $15,787,478 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-03-C-5102) for procurement and delivery of material for the KDX-III Baseline K1 Naval Systems Computing Center, Combat Systems Engineering Development Site and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. Contractor will provide combat systems engineering, computer program development, and ship integration and test support to deliver a variant of the U.S. Navy Aegis Weapon System Baseline 7, Phase I Computer Program and equipment to support the construction of the first Korean Ship in the KDX-III class. In addition, this contract funds an Integrated Test Team to assist the Korean shipyard in performing installation and testing of the Aegis combat system. The contract supports the Country of Korea under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Moorestown, N.J., and is expected to be completed by December 2006. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

June 26, 2006 the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the South Korean Government of 48 SM-2 Block IIIB Tactical STANDARD missiles as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $111 million. The Government of Korea has requested a possible sale of 48 SM-2 Block IIIB Tactical STANDARD missiles with Mk 13 Mod 0 canisters, containers, Intermediate-Level Maintenance spares and repair parts, supply support, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $111 million. Korea will use these missiles as the primary defensive system aboard its new KDX-III AEGIS destroyer for anti-missile ship protection. Korea has already integrated the SM-2 Block IIIA into its ship combat systems. It will have no difficulty absorbing these additional missiles into its armed forces.

In November 2004 Rolls-Royce was awarded an order worth more than $40 million to supply nine AG9140RF gas turbines for South Korea's KDX III destroyer program. The Koreans chose the Rolls-Royce system because it is the same used for Arleigh Burke-class (DDG-51) destroyers in U.S. Navy service. The turbines will provide the main electrical power system for the three ships in the KDX III program. Korean firm Samsung Techwin placed the contract order.

In July 2006 Rolls-Royce, the world-leading provider of power systems and services, has delivered the first three gas turbine generator sets which will provide the main electrical power system for the Republic of Korea Navy's first 7,000-ton KDX-III destroyer. The first AG9140RF gas turbine generator set, was produced at the Rolls-Royce Indianapolis plant, and the other two were assembled by Samsung Techwin from Rolls-Royce supplied kits. Another six generator sets, being assembled by Samsung Techwin from Rolls-Royce supplied kits, will be supplied to the other two KDX-III destroyers that are scheduled to be built. The alternator for the generator set is planned to be produced by Hyundai under licence.

In 2007 the ROK Navy Aegis class Destroyer, KDX-III, took delivery of the most advanced DAVIS Infrared Signature Suppression (IRSS) technology. Using an automatic controller which monitors the surrounding environment, the advanced system actively controls IR signature in order to blend the ship in with the background. DAVIS augmented the Eductor/Diffuser, which passively mixes cool ambient air into the engine exhaust stream, with an active sea water injection (SWI) system. The SWI system injects a fine water mist into the exhaust stream in order to further cool the exhaust gas by water evaporation. Ship skin signature is controlled by an active hull cooling (AHC) system which automatically controls the flow of water to a large array of sprinklers. The controller for the advanced IR suppression systems is the Onboard Signature Manager (OSM) which calculates the optimal temperatures for the ship hull and superstructure given present environmental conditions. OSM builds on the NATO standard IR signature prediction code, ShipIR/NTCS. The IR suppression systems for the KDXIII were selected by the ROK Navy after a thorough cost-benefit analysis which was conducted using ShipIR/NTCS throughout the basic and detailed design stages of the ship.

On 11 August 2004 South Korea's Navy said that it will begin constructing its first 7,000-ton-class Aegis-equipped destroyer as part of a three-phased naval force improvement program. The vessel will be the first of three Aegis-equipped destroyers which the South Korean Navy will develop by 2012 under the KDX-III program. South Korean Navy's first Aegis destroyer "King Sejong" was launched on 25 May 2007 in a ceremony at the Ulsan dockyard of Hyundai Heavy Industries in the southeastern port city of Ulsan. The 7,600-ton KDX-III destroyer made it the fifth country to have the Aegis integrated weapons control system following the US, Japan, Spain and Norway. The King Sejong is also equipped with locally developed ship-to-ship missiles and torpedoes as well as various ship-to-air missiles and ship-to-surface cruise missiles. Stealth technology was also used, making radar detection harder. The ship was to be deployed operationally in 2009 after test operations.

King Sejong the Great is regarded as the most enlightened king in Korean history. King Sejong was born in 1397, and ascended the throne in 1418 at the age of 21. He was the fourth king of the Choson dynasty. He died in 1450 at the age of 54. During his 32-year reign, King Sejong energetically promoted learning. He was responsible for the creation of the Korean Hangul alphabet, and this scientific alphabet is his most known achievement. King Sejong often referred to his sword and swordsmanship in his journal. And like a true warrior, he practiced the ways of war, but preferred peace. An entry from his journal states, "The sword is a weapon of peace. With this sword I stand ready to defend my lineage, my family, my friends, and always, always our blessed country."

In June 2006 the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, the Korean military acquisition agency, selected Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. to build the country's second Aegis-equipped destroyer. Daewoo was expected to deliver the destroyer to the Navy by the end of 2010. In July 2007 Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) began the steel cutting of the South Korean Navy's second KDX-III Aegis-equipped destroyer. The Seoul-based company said that following the start of the steel cutting the first keel would be laid in December, with launching scheduled for November 2008. On 16 November 2008 South Korea launched its second AEGIS KDX-III destroyer. The ship was built at the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering yard on Geoje Island in South Gyeongsang. The ship was named after Yulgok Yi I, a prominent Confucian scholar of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910).

High level discussions have taken place to provide South Korea an Aegis BMD capability on their KDX-III Class Aegis Destroyers. The three 7,000-ton KDX-III destroyers designed by South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries were expected to be in service by 2012. The ships are intended to replace the South Korean Navy's fleet of aging U.S.-built destroyers.

In January 2008 the South Korean navy proposed the procurement of a further three KDX-III Aegis-equipped destroyers. The KDX-III destroyer is the core of the Navy's future "strategic mobile squadrons", consisting of 14,000-ton Dokdo-class large-deck landing platforms, KDX-II destroyers, 1,800-ton Type-214 submarines and other support vessels and aircraft. The Navy plans to create a mobile squadron in 2010 and at least two more in the long run. To that end, the service wants to build three more KDX-III ships by 2020. With only three Aegis ships, systematic operations of mobile squadrons are almost impossible due to lack of backup capability. In general, a pair of Aegis ships is supposed to thwart enemy aircraft and incoming missiles, respectively, while another pair is on standby and another one under regular maintenance.

Join the mailing list