KDX (Korean Destroyer eXperimental) is the Republic of Korea’s big surface combatant shipbuilding program. This 3-phased program involves 3 individual classes of ships. The 3 KDX-I Gwanggaeto the Great Class ships are called destroyers, but at 3,800 tons, their size and armament more properly rank them as small frigates. The last ship of class was commissioned in 2000. The next 6 KDX-II Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin Class ships are indeed destroyers at 6,085 tons full load, with a hull design licensed from Germany’s IABG, and more advanced systems that include SM-2 air defense missiles. They were commissioned between 2003-2008.
With that experience under their belts, Korea entered the 3rd phase of the program. Their KDX-III King Sejong the Great Class destroyers weigh in at 8,500 tons standard displacement and 11,000 tons full load. That’s heavier than the USA’s CG-47 Ticonderoga Class cruisers, making them the largest ships in the world to carry Lockheed Martin’s AEGIS combat system. They’ll form the high end of South Korea’s Navy, while offering a premium showcase for some of the new weapons and electronic systems developed by South Korea’s defense sector.