Artist impression of the future KDX III Batch II destroyer. HHI image.
South Korea’s HHI Cut Steel Of New KDX III Batch II Destroyer For ROK Navy
South Korean shipyard Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) in mid-February started construction on the first KDX-III Batch-II AEGIS destroyer for the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy.
Xavier Vavasseur 03 Mar 2021
ROK Navy's new 8,100-ton KDX III Batch II Aegis destroyer will be capable of Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) missions and feature improved anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities.
On Feburary 16th, HHI held a “first steel cut” ceremony at its Ulsan shipyard for the first of three KDX-III Batch-II destroyers.
The keel laying will take place in October this year. The first-in-class ship will be launched in the second half of 2022. Commissioning by the ROK Navy is expected to take place in 2024.
“By successfully completing the detailed design of the next-generation Aegis ship, we once again proved our advanced technology in the shipbuilding field.”
Sang-Hoon Nam, head of the special ship division of Hyundai Heavy Industries.
The upcoming KDX-III Batch-II destroyers will have empty displacement of 8,100 tons (500 tons increase) and feature BMD capability and improved ASW capability. Notably, it has less VLS cells (128 on Batch I compared to 88 on Batch II)and anti-ship missile launchers, but will be equipped with larger K-VLS-II cells which can accommodate larger and more powerful missiles. It is expected that KDX-III Batch-II will be equipped with supersonic anti-ship missiles. In terms of defensive armament, Two Phalanx and K-SAAM replaced the Goalkeeper and RAM previously used by the Sejong the Great-class destroyer.
About ROK Navy’s KDX III Batch II Destroyer
Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) announced on October 10 2019 it has signed a US$565 million contract with the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) for the first of three Gwanggaeto-III Batch II (KDX-III Batch II) destroyers for the ROK Navy.
Under the deal, HHI will deliver the first of three Aegis destroyers by November 2024. In May 2019, South Korea approved plans to construct the second batch of three destroyers with a budget of around US$3.3 billion.
The KDX-III Batch II program calls for the construction of three Aegis destroyers, one to be delivered every two years. The three existing 7,600-ton KDX-III Batch I Aegis destroyers of the ROK Navy are based on the DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class of the US Navy.
KDX III Batch II weapon systems
Based on the existing Sejong the Great-class the new AEGIS destroyers will feature several improvements including improved combat systems that can detect and track targets at greater distances and anti-ballistic missile capability with Raytheon’s SM-3 Block IB interceptors.
The KDX-III Batch II will be fitted with SM-2 Block IIIB as well and, possibly, the new SM-6 “multi-mission missile” capable of long-range Fleet Air Defense, Sea-Based Terminal defense, and Anti-Surface Warfare. The decision to procure SM-6 has not been made yet and will depend on budget.
According to our South Korean sources, the KDX III Batch II ships will feature a total of 88 vertical launch system (VLS) cells:
- 64x Mk41 VLS for US-made missiles
- 16x K-VLS
- 24x K-VLS II
K-VLS will be used to deploy K-SAAM (Korean Surface to Air Anti Missile), replacing the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM). It features inertial mid-course guidance and a dual microwave and infrared homing seeker for terminal guidance. K-VLS will also deploy Hong Sang Eo (Red Shark) rocket-based torpedo (K-ASROC) and Haeryong Tactical Surface Launch Missile (TSLM) land attack cruise missile.
K-VLS II are larger cells currently being developed by Hanwha to launch the future long-range surface-to-air missile (150 Km range) Cheongung 3 (also known as L SAM). Naval News learned from a source at LIG Nex1, that the naval L SAM (which is still in conceptual phase) will only have minor modifications compared to the land-based variant. L SAM is intended to replace SM-2 in the ROK Navy.
Compared to the Batch I, which sports 16 SSM-700K Haeseong (C-Star) anti ship missiles, the Batch II ships will “only” have 8 of them.
While early renderings of KDX III Batch II ships showed them fitted with a RAM missile launcher, the destroyers will actually get the Phalanx CIWS as their last line of defense, alongside soft kill decoys (Rheinmetall MASS decoy launchers).
KDX III Batch II sensors and CMS
Lockheed Martin is in charge of delivering the AN/SPY-1D(V) multi-function radar as well as the AEGIS combat system for the KDX III Batch II ship. Talking to Naval News during MADEX 2019, Lockheed Martin representatives explained that the destroyers would get the Aegis Baseline 9.C2 derivative with software variant “KII” and BMD baseline 5, which allows the use of SM-3 Block IB. As of October 2019, the radar arrays for the first KDX III Batch II were already in production. The radar arrays and combat system will be tested in New Jersey in 2021 before delivery to South Korea. Naval News also learned from a different source that compared to the Batch I, Batch II ships will feature a “larger hull mounted sonar housing”. SPS-560K will be used to guide K-SAAM.
Talking to Naval News at MADEX 2019, the KDX III program manager at HHI said the 1st steel cutting is set to take place in 2021 and delivery of the first in class ship is expected for 2024. HHI also provided us with the following details:
KDX III Batch II Characteristics:
- Light displacement: 8,300 tons
- Full load displacement: > 10,000 tons
- Length: 170 meters
- Breadth: 21 meters
- Speed: 30 knots
- Crew: 300 sailors