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South Korea completes KDX-1 destroyer upgrade programme

South Korea has completed a programme to upgrade its KDX-1 destroyers with better anti-submarine warfare systems and combat information processing capabilities. (DAPA)

South Korea has completed a programme to enhance the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) systems and combat information processing capabilities of its three Gwanggaeto Daewang (KDX-1)-class destroyers.

The milestone was achieved with the return of Eulji Mundeok (972) to service, the country's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on 28 December. The vessel was handed over to the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN) on the same day after nearly a year of undergoing upgrades.

Eulji Mundeok is the last of the three vessels to undergo the performance improvement programme (PIP), which was launched in September 2016.

The first vessel to be upgraded under the programme was Yang Man-chun (973), which returned to service in September 2020 while its first-of-class sister ship, Gwanggaeto Daewang (971), completed the process in October 2021.

As part of the upgrades, the destroyers' legacy combat management systems were replaced with a locally developed suite that features greater bandwidth, data processing capabilities, and an ability to interface with other assets on the Link 16 military tactical network used by NATO forces.

The destroyers have also been fitted with a new towed array sonar system that features better underwater target detection and tracking capabilities, said DAPA in its statement without giving further details about the system.

The KDX-1 destroyers were commissioned by the RoKN between July 1998 and July 2000. The vessels are equipped with two Raytheon Mk 48 Mod 2 launchers that can fire the RIM-7P Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles, and anti-ship missile launchers that can deploy the RGM-84D Harpoon.

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