At the beginning of June, the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy has launched its first improved Incheon-class guided-missile frigate, known as Future Frigate eXperimental (FFX) II during development, The Korea Times reports.
The launching ceremony of the 2,800-ton (3,600-ton full load) frigate Daegu took place on June 2 at the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) shipyard–the ship’s primary contractor–on Geoje Island, 470 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
The Daegu is the first out of six to nine FFX-II ships to be built by DSME in the years ahead. The ROK Navy is slated to receive the new vessel after extensive builder’s trials at the end of 2017 with a commissioning date set for late 2018.
The ROK Navy currently operates five regular 2,300-ton Incheon-class frigates (FFX-I), with the last FFX-I ship to be commissioned by the end of the 2016. All subsequent Incheon-class vessels inducted into the South Korean Navy will be improved FFX-II types.
Next to its larger size, the improved Incheon-class vessel will be fitted with a new hybrid propulsion system consisting of a Rolls-Royce MT30 turbine engine and four diesel generators, which makes it both more fuel efficient and faster in a combat environment. The frigate is capable of reaching a top speed of 30 knots (55.6 kilometers per hour).
The Daegu’s armament consists of a 27 millimeter Mk 45 Mod 4 naval gun and one, six-barreled, 20 millimeter Raytheon Phalanx close-in weapon system for defense against incoming anti-ship missiles, as well as six 324 millimeter torpedo tubes capable of launching K745 Chung Sang Eo (Blue Shark) light anti-submarine torpedoes.
One of the most interesting new features aboard the Daegu is a 16-cell K-VLS Korean-made Vertical Launch System that can launch indigenous Cheolmae-2 medium-range air defense missiles, vertically-launched anti-submarine missiles, as well as long-range land-attack Haeseong-II cruise missiles, specifically designed to hit ballistic missile launching pads in North Korea.
Developed by the state-run Agency for Defense Development (ADD), the Haeseong-II cruise missile has an estimated range of 500 kilometers (310 miles).
The ship could also accommodate the latest variants of the Hyunmoo-3 long-range all weather subsonic cruise missile, the Hyunmoo-3B and Hyunmoo-3C with estimated ranges of 1,000 and 1,500 kilometers respectively.
Furthermore, the Daegu features a larger hangar in comparison to the previous Inchon-class variant and can accommodate a medium helicopter on its flight deck. The ship’s crew consists of 120 personnel.
It is unclear whether the FFX-II batch of ships will be equipped with a towed sonar next to the built-in sonar. A contract for the second improved Incheon-class vessel is expected to be signed by the end of 2016.