Plan to build three more Aegis destroyers is OKed

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Plan to build three more Aegis destroyers is OKed

Korea’s military approved a plan yesterday to double the number of its Aegis destroyers from three to six in order to bolster Korea’s Navy. The move comes on the heels of mounting regional security concerns.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Choi Yun-hee yesterday presided over a meeting, in which the military agreed to build three additional 7,600- ton Aegis destroyers, to be commissioned between 2023 and 2027.

The project is set to cost an estimated 4 trillion won ($3.8 trillion).

“The decision to increase our Aegis vessels by three was also influenced by a request from the defense committee at the National Assembly,” Kim Min-seok, spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense, said yesterday at a briefing. “Additional Aegis vessels are needed in order to more effectively maneuver our mobile fleets and strengthen our military.”

Kim added that the Navy currently has three Aegis vessels, with one operational, one on stand-by and one under maintenance. That puts a great burden on the three ships, he said, making for “a very busy” operation schedule - a point considered in the Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting.

Korea currently has three 7,600-ton KDX-III warships - Sejong the Great, the Seoae Ryu Seong-ryong and the Yulgok Yi I - built by Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering.

The new Aegis vessels would have upgraded antisubmarine capabilities to be able to detect and shoot down ballistic missiles, conduct accurate strikes and defend the region, said a Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman. This takes “into consideration North Korea’s nuclear and missile weapons, enemy submarine attacks and other unexpected threats and local provocations.”

Over the past year, the military discussed expanding the number of its Aegis destroyers, but the plan became more urgent after China last month unilaterally declared its new East China Sea air defense identification zone, which incorporates areas claimed by Korea and Japan.

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