By Jung Sung-ki
Raytheon of the United States has won a contract to supply its Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) for the lead ship of the Navy's new 2,300 ton-class frigate, a spokesman for the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said Wednesday.
The U.S. defense firm was also selected as the preferred bidder to supply its surface-to-air RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) with the ``FFX'' ship to enter service in 2011, said the spokesman.
``A contract was signed last month on the Phalanx CIWS system, while price negotiations on the RAM anti-aircraft missiles are under way," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. ``The deal on the RAM will also be finalized by July."
The spokesman declined to comment on the value of both contracts before announcing the final bidder. According to another DAPA source, the Phalanx system is worth about $11 million and the RAM, $17 million.
Raytheon's Phalanx beat out Thales Netherland's ``Goalkeeper'' system for last-ditch missile defense and small boat suppression, the spokesman said. The RAM system was chosen as the preferred bidder over the MICA missile system built by the European consortium of MBDA, he added.
The Phalanx CIWS is a rapid-fire, computer-controlled, radar-guided gun system designed to defeat anti-ship missiles and other close-in air and surface threats. The FFX frigate will be armed with Phalanx Block 1B, the latest upgrade, with its surface mode configuration.
RAM is a small, lightweight, infrared homing anti-air missile designed to destroy anti-ship missiles. Its autonomous dual-mode passive radio frequency and infrared guidance design is known to provide high-firepower capability for engaging multiple threats simultaneously.
DAPA is considering purchasing the latest RAM Block1 model with the added capability against crossing targets and the ability to engage fixed and rotary-winged aircraft.
Last December, South Korea's leading shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries was awarded a 140-billion-won (about $111 million) contract to build the lead FFX ship. FFX ships will replace the older Ulsan frigates and Donghae/Pohang class corvettes by 2020.
The first batch of six FFX ships is 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.
The Navy aims to commission 24 to 27 FFX vessels by 2020 as part of efforts to bolster its coastal defense operations.
The FFX, with a full load displacement of 3,200 tons, will carry a crew of 170 and a Lynx anti-submarine helicopter, according to Navy officials. It will be able to sail at a top speed of 32 knots, they said. The ship will also be fitted with an automated naval combat system co-developed by the state-funded Agency for Defense Development and Samsung Thales.
Its operational range is 4,500 nautical miles. The ship will have conventional diesel/gas turbine propulsion.