Surface Forces: November 19, 2003


The South Korean navy has launched the third of it's three KDX II destroyers. The 4500 ship is a slightly larger version of the earlier three KDX I destroyers. The KDX I's, which were built in the late 1990s (the last one entered service in 1999) were 3,900 tons, 444 feet long and with a top speed of 54 kilometers an hour. Weapons and electronics are largely American. There are eight Harpoon anti-ship missiles, 16 Seasparrow anti-aircraft missiles, one five inch gun, two 30mm close range automatic cannon and six 12.75 inch torpedoes. The crew is 286 sailors. The three KDX II ships are 4400 tons and 495 feet long. But they will have more automation, a smaller crew (200 sailors) and different weapons (32 vertical launch tubes, plus eight Harpoons, for example.) The first KDX II will enter service next year. But already, work has begun on the 7,000 ton KDX III, which will be even more similar to U.S. destroyers. These ships won't be entering service until 2010. South Korea has several decades of experience building commercial ships, and this program perfects their warship construction skills. In addition to the KDX (Korean Destroyer Experimental) program, two 14,000 amphibious assault ships are being built. Each of these will carry 700 troops, ten helicopters, ten armored vehicles and two landing boats. North Korea's navy is based on the old Soviet model, with lots of small, fast, short range missile boats. The South Korean navy is built more on the U.S. model, and is expected to use superior technology to defeat the superior North Korean numbers.


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