The Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN) has received its third Incheon-class guided-missile frigate, delivered under the Future Frigate Experimental (FFX) programme, Ridzwan Rahmat, IHS Jane’s Navy International correspondent reported.
The news agency Yonhap cited the country’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) as saying that the vessel, named RoKS Jeonbuk (pennant number 813), will become operational in May following a four-month integration process. The warship is expected to take on roles such as maritime surveillance and anti-submarine patrol.
Jeonbuk is the third ship in the class to be produced by shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries. The company was also contracted to produce the first two vessels in class, Incheon (811) and Gyeonggi (812), commissioned in January 2013 and November 2014 respectively. Another local company, STX Offshore & Shipbuilding, has been contracted to produce ships four to six.
IHS Jane’s Fighting Ships notes that a further nine ships are projected to enter service by 2020. This batch of nine will be built to a substantially revised design. Some estimates suggest that a class of up to 20 vessels in total may be procured.
HDF-3000 type Frigate (official designation of the FFX) is the latest multi-purpose combatant. The modern, powerful, stealthy frigate will replace HDF-2000 Ulsan Class Frigate, which have been operating as major force of RoKN ever since delivery by HHI in 1980 HDF-2000H is derivative and 2nd generation of HDF-2000 with helicopter landing deck and hangar, applying stealth technology.
Equipped with Raytheon’s Mk-49 RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile surface-to-air weapon, a Phalanx Block 1B Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), and a hull-mounted sonar, the platform offers improved Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities. As IHS Jane’s reported, the RoKN will deploy AgustaWestland AW159 Lynx Wildcat ASW helicopters on the Incheon class.
The frigates’ six torpedo tubes (2×3) will carry indigenously developed K745 Cheong Sangeo (Blue Shark) 324 mm torpedoes: these weapons have a speed in excess of 45 knots/51.8 mph/83 km/h; they can also be operated in shallow waters such as the Korean peninsula’s West Sea.
The Incheon-class frigates have a length of 114 m, a beam of 14 m, and a draught of 4 m. The frigates displace 3,200 tons at full load and can attain a top speed of 30 knots/34.5 mph/56 km/h. Maximum range is 4500 NM/8,334 km at a cruising speed of 18 knots/20.7 mph/33 km/h. The vessel is powered by gas turbines in a CODOG configuration (Combined diesel or gas). The new frigates accommodate a crew of 140.