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Incheon FFX / HDF-3000 type Frigate

Each FFX Batch I frigate is said to cost around WON 250 billion ($232 million), and the ROKN planned to have Hyundai Heavy Industries build 6 of them. Since constructing and delivering the first Korean-built frigate ROKS Ulsan in 1980, Hyundai Heavy has grown as a leading naval ship builder by delivering 57 naval ships including the first and the third Korean Aegis destroyers, 3 KDX-II destroyers, 5 frigates, 3 submarines, and 24 patrol & salvage ships.

The HDF-3000 type Frigate is the latest multi-purpose combatant designed by HHI in late 2000 under ROKN FFX Program. The modern, powerful, stealthy frigate will replace HDF-2000 Ulsan Class Frigate which had been operating as major force of ROKN ever since delivery by HHI in 1980 HDF-2000H is derivative and 2nd generation of HDF-2000 with helicopter landing deck and hangar, applying stealth technology.

On 26 December 2008 Hyundai Heavy Industries was awarded a contract to build the lead ship of the new 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 was armed with light torpedoes and anti-ship missiles as well as a 127mm gun, they said. It was also 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.

Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s largest shipbuilder, held a launch ceremony 04 May 2011 for the next generation frigate, Incheon. The launch ceremony was attended by Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Kim Sung-chan, Hyundai Heavy’s president & CEO Mr. Lee Jai-seong and other government and military officials. The frigate was named after the city Incheon. The Incheon frigate has greatly improved capabilities with its weapon and sensors including five inch guns, anti-surface missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, torpedoes and anti-submarine helicopter. The frigate also has sonar for enhanced submarine detection and 3D navigation radar.

In addition, the military vessel uses stealth technology to minimize the exposure to electromagnetic waves, infrared signature, and underwater radiation noise. The Incheon frigate, measuring 114 m long, 14 m wide, and 25 m deep, can sail at a maximum speed of 30 knots with a cruising range of about 8,000 km. The first frigate, ordered in December 2008 and due for delivery to the Korean Navy in December 2012, was the first of the next-generation vessels being built to replace the existing frigates and corvettes.

On 18 July 2013 Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. unveiled the South Korean Navy's second 2,300-ton frigate with improved warfare capabilities against North Korea. The launching ceremony took place at Hyundai Heavy's shipyard in the southeastern city of Ulsan, attended by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy chief and other senior officials. The naval ship was named after Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital Seoul and the western port city of Incheon, which has a strategic importance for defense. The Gyeonggi was to be be delivered to the Navy in 2014 and deployed for operation in 2015, officials said.

Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., the world's largest shipyard by sales, said 13 December 2018 that it had bagged a 634 billion won ($563 million) order to build two frigates. Under the deal with South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration, Hyundai Heavy will deliver the two 2,800-ton ships by 2023 to the country's Navy. The ships have a hybrid electric drive propulsion system designed to reduce noise for more effective anti-submarine operations.


Having focused on 500-ton small frigate construction like Patrol Killer Guided missile (PKG), STX sought to achieve recognition of its frigate construction ability through building 2,500-3,000 ton frigate. Accordingly, the Korean builder could build a foundation to step up in special ship construction area, one of its strategies for early completion of autonomous agreement.

STX Offshore & Shipbuilding signed a shipbuilding contract for Ulsan-grade Batch-I Succeeding Ship (No. 6 Ship) that is a future frigate with the Defense Acquisition Program Administration on 27 September 2012. The shipbuilding project is about securing future frigates with enhanced combat capabilities and survivability through domestic shipbuilding and STX Offshore & Shipbuilding proved the capability of building such ships by receiving orders for No. 6 ship following No. 4 & 5 ships. For some reason (allegedly a lawsuit from a competing bidder) construction of both ships did not begin until November, 2013. So ten months from laying down to launch.

STX had a keel-laying ceremony of two next generation frigates (FFX-1), attended by officials from Defense Acquisition Program Administration and Defense Agency for Technology and Quality at its Jinhae Shipyard at 11am on 05 November 2013. The Korean builder was currently constructing a total of three next generation frigates, including the other one awarded in 2012.

The fourth FFG(Guided Missile Frigate), ‘Gangwon Ham’, to protect South Korean territorial waters, was launched at the shipyard of STX Offshore & Shipbuilding in Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do on 12 August 2014. The launch ceremony was attended by Gangwon Province Governor Choi Mun-sun as the guest of honor, Vice Admiral Eom Hyun-sung, the vice chief of naval operations, navy sailors, the CEO of STX Offshore & Shipbuilding Jung Sung-leep and other shipyard-related officials.

The launching ceremony floated a warship mounted with equipment and weapons systems to the water for the first time. As a traditional Navy launching ceremony, it was held beginning with the pledge of allegiance to the nation, a progress report for ship-building, the announcement of the name of the ship, a tape-cutting ceremony and champagne bottle breaking.

The Gangwon Ham would be handed over in the second half of 2015 after going through a period of acceptance evaluation and successfully completing a 4-month force integration process, and the navy was going to deploy the ship in 2016.

Foreign Sales

"Israel recently expressed an interest to buy four frigates," Yonhap news agency quoted an official at South Korean’s state-run weapons procurement agency, Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), as saying 02 November 2012 on condition of anonymity. The 1,400-ton frigates under negotiation with Israel are said to be priced at about US$100 million each.

South Korea offered to build warships for the Israeli navy after it lost a bid to sell Israel T-50 fighter trainer jets earlier this year. A team of representatives from the South Korean government and Hyundai Shipyards visited Tel Aviv in 2012 April to discuss a deal aimed at building frigates for the Israeli navy.

There are reports that Hyundai would sell Israel the vessels, and that various Israeli defense industries would install locally-made systems on board, including radar and Barak anti-missile system. Some of the work could be done by the Israel Shipyards in the city of Haifa, located about 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of Tel Aviv.

By March 2013 Hyundai was offering the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) varieties of the "Incheon" class frigates. The talks with the South Korean defense manufacturer came about when the DND decided to not go ahead with the planned purchase of the Italian "Maestrale" frigates due to questions of cost and hull aging. The Philippines and South Korean shipbuilder HHI signed a PHP16-billion contract for two missile-armed frigates with another PHP2 billion set aside for its weapon systems and munition in October 2016.

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Page last modified: 13-09-2021 14:44:20 ZULU