Daehan Lee story, additional reporting by Xavier Vavasseur
Next year, the basic design development will be over. In 2024, the contract for the detailed design and construction of the first ship will be awarded. A well-informed source in the shipbuilding industry told Naval News that the current KDDX design is quite different from what has been shown via images and scale models so far.
Contacted by Naval News, HHI declined to comment about KDDX and its basic design to abide by the contract that the company signed with DAPA to prevent sensitive information leaks.
DAPA acknowledged that the defense procurement agency awarded the basic design contract to HHI, but at the same time refused to provide more information on the current status, schedule, and specifications of the KDDX, on the grounds that those are military secrets. Contacted by Naval News, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense avoided commenting on the procurement project, saying that DAPA and HHI are currently in charge.
With a displacement of 6,500 tons, KDDX will be smaller than the 7,600 tons Aegis destroyers. They are still being referred to as a “mini Aegis ship” because of their ability to intercept missiles and perform the tasks of the Aegis ships.
The size of the KDDX is between that of the Chungmugong-Yi-Sunsin-class KDX destroyer and the Sejong-great-class Aegis destroyer, with a length of 156 meters and a width of 19 meters. The ship will feature a 127mm main gun, 16 surface-to-surface guided missiles known as Haesung or recently successful supersonic anti-ship missiles, 64 KVLS-I and KVLS-II cells, and a naval variant of the L- SAM air defense and anti-ballistic missiles. For close-in protection, KDDX will be fitted with the future CIWS-II by LIG Nex1.
The next generation destroyer will also be fitted with a new combat management system and an integrated mast (I-Mast) with multi-function radar (MFR) featuring dual S/X band phase arrays. Both systems are being developed by Hanwha Systems who won a competitive tender against LIG Nex1 back in September 2020.
HHI and DSME (Daewoo Shipbuilding and Maritime Engineering) submitted proposals to DAPA’s KDDX basic design tender, which was comprised of total 100 scores (80 for technology, 20 for costs). HHI won over DSME with a narrow score of a decimal point.
The ROK Navy plans to procure a total of 18 destroyers by the late 2020s and create a large-sized fleet composed of :
- 6 Chungmugong Yi Sunsin-class KDX II ships,
- 3 Sejong the Great-class KDX III Batch I ships,
- 3 Jeongjo the Great-class KDX III Batch II Aegis destroyers,
- 6 KDDX