South Korea launches fourth Incheon-class frigate

South Korea's STX Offshore & Shipbuilding launched the Republic of Korea Navy's (RoKN's) fourth Incheon-class Future Frigate Experimental (FFX) guided-missile frigate at its facility in Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do on 12 August.

The vessel, named Gangwon , is the first Incheon-class frigate built by STX. The three previous ships in the class - Incheon (FFG-811), Gyeonggi (FFG-812), and Jeonbuk (FFG-813) - were built by another local shipbuilder, Hyundai Heavy Industries. IHS Jane's understands that Gangwon will receive the pennant number 815.

The FFX platform has been developed to replace the RoKN's Ulsan-class frigates and Dong Hae- and Po Hang-class corvettes. The class is intended to deliver improved anti-air warfare (AAW) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities. The South Korean government is expected to acquire up to 20 vessels in the class in an acquisition programme scheduled to continue into the 2020s.

According to specifications provided by the South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND), Gangwon 's six torpedo tubes will carry indigenously developed K745 Cheong Sangeo (Blue Shark) 324 mm torpedoes, weapons that can operate in shallow waters and can attain speeds in excess of 45 kt.

The 2,337-tonne standard displacement vessel will also be armed with Raytheon's Mk 49 RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile surface-to-air weapon, a Phalanx Block 1B close-in weapon system (CIWS), and two quadruple launchers for the SSM-700K Sea Star (Hae Sung) medium-range anti-ship missile.

The weapons will be complemented with a suite of sensors that includes a Thales-developed hull-mounted sonar and a LIG Nex 1-built 3-D multibeam medium-range air search radar.

Gangwon is scheduled for handover to the RoKN in the second half of 2015. It is expected to be fully operational by 2016.

Ridzwan Rahmat, Singapore - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly. 26 August 2014