Surface Forces: September 5, 2004

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South Korea is building the first KDX-III-class guided missile destroyers, and will equip them with the powerful Aegis radar and missile systems. The Republic of Korea Navys KDX Program (Korean Destroyer Experimental) has proceeded in three phases. The 3,800 ton KDX-I was first placed in service in 1998 and the 5,000 ton KDX-II in 2002. The first of the 9,000 ton KDX-III class is scheduled to be in service in 2008 and will be approximately the same size as the US Navys Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer. The KDX-III is the first Korean ship large enough to carry the AEGIS system, including its missiles. At an initial estimated cost of $923 million each, the program will likely cost upwards of $2.7 billion. Three or four KDX-IIIs are already planned. After the firsts delivery in 2008, the Korean Ministry of Defence expects to deploy the second in 2010 and the third in 2012. 

The KDX-III Program is just one intended to harden South Korea against an attack from the north. North Korea where starving peasants have been reduced to eating boiled grass and tree bark and where even front line troops get just two bowls of rice a day has upped its spending on weapons to a staggering 40 per cent of total government spending. 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. 

While the specifications for the KDX-III have yet to be finalized, it is expected that the ship's combat systems will include a fixed array radar (AEGIS SPY 1D). KDX-III is a large (approx. 9,000 ton) AEGIS destroyer with a turbine-electric propulsion system. The preliminary design calls for high survivability through blast hardening of bulkheads, vital spaces (including magazines) protection, redundancy - separation of vital systems, fragmentation protection, and fire spread suppression.

While Congress has been notified that the AEGIS sale to Seoul will be for $1.2 billion, this may actually be a low figure. The average cost of an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer (DDG-51) the US Navys KDX-III equivalent AEGIS destroyer has risen to over $1 billion a copy. K.B. Sherman

 


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