2nd Aegis Destroyer Launched
By Jung Sung-ki
The Navy launched its second 7,600-ton KDX-III Sejong the Great-class destroyer equipped with the up-to-date Aegis air warfare defense system at a ceremony Friday.
The destroyer can carry two mid-sized helicopters and is scheduled to be deployed operationally as early as late next year, a Navy official said.
The ship was named after Yi I, a prominent Confucian scholar of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910). The ceremony was held at a shipyard of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering on Geoje Island, South Gyeongsang Province.
The Aegis Combat System built by Lockheed Martin of the United States is the world's premier surface-to-air/fire-control system, capable of simultaneous operations against aircraft, ballistic and cruise missiles, ships and submarines.
Only a few countries have Aegis warships. They include the United States, Japan, Spain and Norway.
``I believe Aegis destroyers armed with state-of-the-art radar and air warfare defense systems will help safeguard our nation and ocean successfully,'' President Lee Myung-bak said in his congratulatory message read by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jung Ok-keun during the ceremony.
``With the launch of Aegis ships, I hope our military diplomacy will be further expanded,'' Lee said.
The KDX-III ship is the core of the Navy's pursuit of building ``strategic mobile squadrons'' also involving 14,000-ton large-deck landing platforms, 4,500-ton KDX-II destroyers, 1,800-ton Type 214 submarines, frigates and anti-submarine Lynx helicopters.
The ship's SPY-1D radar can track some 1,000 aircraft within a 500-kilometer radius simultaneously, providing full 360-degree coverage. The ship can carry SM-2 ship-to-air missiles with a range of 170 kilometers.
The vessel can carry 300 crewmembers and is able to sail at a maximum speed of 30 knots with a cruising range of 10,000 kilometers. Its per-unit price is $1 billion.
The 166-meter-long, 21-meter-wide vessel can carry 128 sophisticated missiles including locally developed ship-to-ship missiles in its MK41 Vertical Launch System and Korea Vertical Launch System, and torpedoes.
Missile systems for the ship include ship-to-air SM-2 Block IIIA/B Tactical Standard missiles, built by Raytheon Systems, with a range of 170 kilometers; Cheonryong (sky dragon) ship-to-surface cruise missiles with a range of more than 500 kilometers; and Hongsangeo (red shark) long-range ship-to-submarine torpedoes with a target range of 19 kilometers.
Among other major armaments are the 150-kilometer-range Hae Seong (sea star) ship-to-ship missiles, the RAM MK-31 guided missiles, a 30-mm ``Goalkeeper'' system for engaging incoming sea-skimming anti-ship missiles and a 5-inch/62-caliber MK 45 Mod 4 lightweight gun.
The ship is equipped with radar-evading stealth technology and the domestically-built SLQ-200(V) SONATA electronic warfare system.