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Korea launches Jeongjo the Great, Navy's first 8,200-ton Aegis destroyer

President Yoon Suk-yeol speaks during a ceremony celebrating the launch of the country’s new 8,200-ton Aegis destroyer, the Jeongjo the Great, in Ulsan on Thursday. (Yonhap)
President Yoon Suk-yeol speaks during a ceremony celebrating the launch of the country’s new 8,200-ton Aegis destroyer, the Jeongjo the Great, in Ulsan on Thursday. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk-yeol traveled to the southeastern port city of Ulsan to join a ceremony to celebrate the launch of the country’s first 8,200-ton Aegis destroyer, the Jeongjo the Great destroyer, on Thursday.

“We have now become capable of building a world-class Aegis destroyer with our own technologies,” Yoon celebrated the launch of the new destroyer, during his speech at the ceremony held at the shipyard of Hyundai Heavy Industries in Ulsan, joined by some 150 people, including first lady Kim Keon-hee, and high-ranking officials from the government, military and industry.

Yoon praised the destroyer, calling it “a national strategic asset built based on a cutting-edge combat system equipped with the ability to detect, track and intercept ballistic missiles.” Yoon said that the new destroyer would improve the Navy’s combat capability and help the country “build strong maritime security, in which people can safely carry out economic activities at sea.”

Yoon added that the government will nurture the local defense industry so that the country can become a global marine power. Yoon expressed hopes that the government’s investment in the industry could increase the country’s arms exports and contribute to its economic growth.

The president‘s speech was followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony by first lady Kim.

The Aegis-equipped destroyer, named after one of Korea most respected rulers, 18th-century Joseon King Jeongjo, was built as part of the country’s defense acquisition program named Gwanggaeto-III Batch-II, developed to increase South Korea’s defense against North Korea‘s evolving military capabilities.

The vessel comes with an anti-missile system that would be able to intercept aerial targets and stronger anti-submarine capabilities than its predecessors, according to the Navy.

The Jeongjo the Great can also launch ship-to-ground and ship-to-air guided missiles that can track and hit targets from a long distance.

The 170-meter-long and 21-meter-wide destroyer is bigger than the 7,600-ton Sejong, but it has enhanced stealth capabilities, aided by its advanced sonar system that can target enemy submarines and underwater weapons, the Navy added.

The destroyer is powered by four gas turbines and two additional hybrid electric drives, which will allow the vessel to save fuel and travel more quietly.

The destroyer can also carry MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters that the country plans to introduce in 2024.

The Jeongjo the Great is also scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in late 2024.

By Shim Woo-hyun (ws@heraldcorp.com)
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