South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has announced that the Gwanggaeto Daewang (KDX-I)-class destroyer, known as ‘Gwanggaeto the Great (DDG 971)’, has received upgraded combat capabilities.

DAPA handed over the lead ship in the class to the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN) during a ceremony at the Jinhae Naval Base in Gyeongnam on 22 October.

The 3,200t vessel is the second upgraded KDX-I destroyer of the RoKN.

It has been returned to the RoKN after completing a modernisation programme aimed at enhancing the ship’s combat management system (CMS) and other sensors.

According to DAPA, the upgrade project for the destroyer commenced in April last year. It now features a towed array sonar system designed to enhance anti-submarine capabilities.

The sonar system is similar to the one found on the RoKN’s FFX-series frigates.

The three Gwanggaeto the Great (KDX-I) destroyers were built by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) for the RoKN.

They are designed to replace the older ex-US Navy ships of the RoKN and are being developed under the Korean Destroyer Experimental (KDX) programme.

The three-phase programme includes the construction of KDX-I, KDX-II, and KDX-III destroyer classes.

The first destroyer of the three-vessel KDX-I class, Yang Manchun (DDG 973), was upgraded and returned to service in September last year.

Meanwhile, the third destroyer Eulji Mundeok (DDG 972) is currently undergoing upgrades and is scheduled to return to service with RoKN in December.