A graphic model of the FFX
By Jung Sung-ki
Hyundai Heavy Industries has been awarded a contract to build the lead ship of the South Korean Navy's new 2,300 ton-class frigates to begin service in 2011, a military source said Wednesday.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) signed the contract worth about 140 billion won Dec. 26 with Hyundai, which had been in charge of the basic design of the state-of-the-art frigate codenamed FFX, said the source.
FFX ships will replace the older Ulsan class frigates and Donghae/Pohang class corvettes by 2020, according to the Navy.
The first six FFX ships are to be built by 2015 to replace the current nine Ulsan class frigates in service. The lead ship of the Ulsan class was commissioned in 1981.
According to sources, the Navy wants to launch 24 to 27 FFX vessels by 2020 as part of efforts to bolster its coastal defense operations.
``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 military source told The Korea Times, asking not to be named.
The FFX, with a full load displacement of 3,200 tons, will carry a Lynx anti-submarine helicopter, Navy officials said. It will have a crew of 170 and sail at a top speed of 32 knots, they said.
The ship will be armed with light torpedoes and anti-ship missiles as well as a 127mm gun, they said. It will also be 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 as well as a vertical missile launching system are planned, according to sources.
Its operational range is 4,500 nautical miles. The ship will have conventional diesel/gasoline propulsion.