South Korea's first Aegis KDX III Batch II destroyer begins sea trials.

South Korea’s new Aegis destroyer (KDX III Lot II), ROKS Jeongjo the Great, has begun sea trials, according to an official DAPA video.

The lead ship of the KDX III Batch II program, ROKS Jeongjo the Great, was launched on July 28, 2022, at the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea.

After the launching ceremony, the ship entered the equipment phase at the foot of the dock. Naval News can confirm that the vessel was still being fitted out at the Ulsa shipyard in May.

Since launching the ROKS Jeongjo the Great, the South Korean government has not released any information or photos about the ship. A year of silence from the South Korean Navy, companies and the government. However, this changed on October 6, when DAPA posted a video showing the ship during sea trials on its YouTube channel.

The video shows the Aegis Jeongjo Grand Destroyer almost completely armed with VLS. However, the domestically manufactured vertical launch system KVLS-II is still under development, so the space for the VLS section remains empty.

The KDX III Batch II program provides for constructing three Aegis destroyers. The lead ship is scheduled to be delivered to the ROK Navy in November 2024.

Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) is expected to build the three Aegis “Jeongjo the Great” class destroyers, and the second ship, whose steel cutting ceremony was held on July 4, 2023, will be delivered to the Navy the ROK in 2026.

As a crucial part of the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD), the Aegis “Jeongjo the Great” class destroyers will have ballistic missile defense (BMD) capabilities. Unlike the current Aegis Sejong the Great class destroyers (KDX III Lot I program), the Aegis Jeongjo the Great class destroyers feature the latest Aegis combat system, the Baseline 9.C2 “KII.” It provides better detection capabilities and allows using SM-6 and SM-3 missiles from Raytheon Technologies Corporation (RTX).

The “Jeongjo the Great” class Aegis destroyers, unlike other Aegis ships, will have the ability to engage surface targets from long ranges using the KVLS-II “ship-to-surface ballistic missile” currently under development. The name of the missile is known locally as Hyunmoo-IV-2.

South Korea's first Aegis KDX III Batch II destroyer begins sea trials.

The combat system of the Aegis “Jeongjo the Great” class destroyer is integrated with local systems. Thanks to infrared detection and tracking equipment (IRST) and electro-optical tracking equipment (EOTS), the detection and tracking capacity has more than doubled compared to the Aegis “Jeongjo the Great” class destroyer, and the detection range of submarines has been improved more than “Three times” with an integrated sonar system.

The hull-mounted sonar (HMS) hardware size of the Aegis “Jeongjo the Great”-class destroyer has been significantly larger than the HMS of the Aegis “Jeongjo the Great”-class destroyer. The new variable depth sonar (VDS) and multi-function towed array (MFTA) are applied to the Aegis destroyer of the “Jeongjo the Great” class.

Young Hak Lee