Daehan Lee story with additional reporting by Xavier Vavasseur
The KDX-I “midlife update” (dubbed PIP for Performance Improvement Program in Korea) aims at improving outdated combat systems such as sensors placed on three KDX-I destroyers that have been serving as flagships of each three sea of the Korean Peninsula. The first upgraded ship Yang Manchun was re-delivered to the ROK Navy in September last year. First-in-class ship Gwanggaeto the Great is the second destroyer that successfully went through the PIP which takes a whole year.
The KDX-I PIP command control system project was announced for tender on April 27, 2016, and in July of the same year, Hanwha Thales won the project. The cost of the porject is 67.41 billion won, and the project period is from the contract date to December 31, 2021, for a total of 66 months.
The Imported combat system (BAe SEMA SSCS Mk.7 combat management system with Thales TACTICOS fire control) which was present on the KDX-I was replaced with an improved localized system developed by Hanwha Systems. According to DAPA, the new CMS significantly enhances the combat command capabilities and enabled the ROK Navy to reduce the time and costs of operation and maintenance. In addition, a Towed Array Sonar System (TASS) has been installed for better tracking and detection of hostile submarines as well as LINK 16 and anti-jamming GPS capabilities. LIG Nex1 provided upgraded SLQ-261K torpedo decoy launchers. Various electronic equipment, cables, engines, etc. were also serviced during the overhaul which makes the destroyers operational for another 10 years.
According to local media, the PIP allows a crew reduction of about 22 sailors. The target management capability was increased by more than 3 times and the information processing speed by more than 100 times
Mr. Geuk-cheol Bang, the Director of Naval Ship Project at DAPA said:
“It is expected that ROKS Gwanggaeto the Great will perform better as a flagship of the fleet, armed with a new combat system and sensor.”
The third KDX-I, ROKS Ulchi Mundok which is currently undergoing PIP upgrades, will be delivered to the Korean Navy by the coming December this year, according to the DAPA.