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Hanwha Ocean emerges as preferred bidder to build additional FFX-III frigates

A model of the FFX-III frigate on display at Hanwha Ocean's exhibition stand during MADEX 2023. (Janes/Ridzwan Rahmat)

South Korean shipbuilder Hanwha Ocean has emerged as the preferred bidder in a programme to supply the country with two more Chungnam (FFX-III)-class frigates, the company confirmed to Janes on 17 July.

The programme, which is also commonly referred to in-country as the ‘Ulsan-class Batch III' project, seeks to equip the Republic of Korea Navy with a class of six frigates that will progressively take on duties associated with the service's fleet of Pohang-class corvettes.

However, at this juncture, a formal contract to build the vessels has yet to materialise. The contract is expected to be issued before the end of 2023.

The programme's first-of-class, which will be in service as ROKS Chungnam once commissioned, was launched by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) in April 2023. Contracts to build the second, third, and fourth vessels in the class have been awarded to another South Korean company, Samkang M&T, which has rebranded itself as SK Oceanplant.

Negotiations for the final contract are still ongoing, but Hanwha Ocean is expected to build frigates that are largely similar to the first-of-class, which displaces about 3,500 tonnes with an overall length of 129 m and a width of 15 m.

The frigate is fitted with a hybrid electric and gas propulsion system and can attain a maximum speed of 30 kt. It can accommodate a crew of 120 and a medium helicopter on its flight deck.

The warship will be equipped with a Hanwha Ocean-made four-sided multifunction radar, which resembles the ELM-2248 (MF-STAR) from Israel's Elta Systems. Specifics of its radar system have yet to be released by Hanwha Ocean.

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