The South Korean Navy is planning to launch six mini-Aegis destroyers between 2019 and 2026 in a bid to support and strengthen its coastal and blue-water operations.

The plan was unveiled in a report submitted to a National Assembly inspection of the navy at the Gyeryongdae military compound in South Chungcheong Province.

The 5,600t medium-sized KDX-IIA destroyers equipped with SPY radar and close-in weapon systems will become a core part of the navy’s strategic mobile fleet, according to the navy report.

The South Korean Navy’s strategic mobile fleet will be composed of two KDX-III destroyer-led squadrons involving KDX-II or KDX-IIA ships, support vessels, new frigates and attack submarines.

A new naval base will be also be constructed on the southern island of Jeju by 2014 to serve as home port for the fleet.

The first overseas mission for the South Korean Navy was the deployment of 4,500t KDX-II destroyers to Somali waters in March 2009 to fight piracy.

The KDX-III is one of the most advanced Aegis warships that features SPY-1D radar which can simultaneously track about 1,000 aircraft within a 500km radius, providing 360° coverage.

The 166m-long, 21m-wide KDX-III aegis destroyer can carry 128 anti-air, surface-to-surface and anti-submarine missiles in its vertical launch systems.