SEOUL, Dec. 21 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea’s arms procurement agency said Wednesday it has placed an order to build two 2,800 ton frigates ahead of schedule to support the ailing local shipbuilding industry.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said it signed a contract worth 700 billion won (US$585.6 million) with Hyundai Heavy & Industries on Tuesday, which calls for the construction of two warships.
The two will be the third and fourth vessels belonging to the second batch of the Navy’s new Ulsan-class frigates. Seoul aims to build a total of eight Ulsan frigates for its second batch.
South Korea is currently in the process of building new frigates and corvettes to replace older vessels in its fleet. The three-stage project, which kicked off in 2006, will run till 2026.
DAPA said that it has decided to place an order to build them three months earlier than scheduled in a bid to support local shipbuilders and their contractors, which are struggling from an industrywide slowdown.
The frigates will be equipped with a low-noise hybrid propulsion system and state-of-the-art weapons, including anti-submarine weapons, as well as anti-air and surface-to-ground guided missiles.
“They will be operated as the main frigates capable of defending the South Korean waters and attacking the enemy in times of conflict,” said an official at the agency.
DAPA also added that it plans to quicken the process of building the fifth and sixth frigates of the class with an aim at picking a shipbuilder in the first half of next year.
It will, moreover, kick off the project to construct the third batch of Ulsan-class ships with a displacement of 3,000 tons one year earlier than scheduled. The total number of ships in this batch could reach six.
South Korea’s Navy already operates the first batch of the Ulsan frigates, with a displacement of 2,300 tons.