South Korea’s defense procurement agency DAPA announced on December 28 that the final of three KDX-I destroyers to undergo the first-ever locally-managed capability upgrade was handed over to the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN). ROKS Eulji Mundeok (DDH-972) is the second ship of the Gwangaetto the Great-class in the Republic of Korea Navy. She is named after Eulji Mundeok. The the Great-class destroyer upgrade program included the installation of a new towed array sonar system for improved anti-submarine capabilities. A new locally-developed combat system was also installed, and will provide more capabilities compared to the ones previously employed by the destroyers. A greater share of indigenous technologies now featured on the ships will ensure reduced maintenance times and cost in their third decade of service.
ROKS Eulji Mundeok was launched on 16 October 1997 by Daewoo Shipbuilding and commissioned on 30 August 1999.The Gwanggaeto the Great-class destroyers often called KDX-I, are destroyers, but are classified by some as frigates, operated by the Republic of Korea Navy. It was the first phase of ROKN’s KDX program, in moving the ROK Navy from a coastal defence force to a blue-water navy. It was thought to be a major turning point for the ROKN in that the launching of the first KDX-I meant that ROKN finally had a capability to project power far from its shores. After the launching of the ship, there was a massive boom in South Korean international participation against piracy and military operations other than war. ROKS Yang Man-Chun, the youngest of the three ships in the class, was also the first to undergo the inaugural surface warship improvement project to be completed by DAPA.
The primary weapon deployed by Gwanggaeto the Great-class vessels is the Super Lynx helicopter, which acts in concert with shipboard sensors to seek out and destroy submarines at long distances from the ships. The Gwanggaeto the Great class also carries a close-in anti-submarine weapon in the form of the Mark 46 torpedoes, launched from triple torpedo tubes in launcher compartments. A secondary anti-shipping role is supported by the RGM-84 Harpoon surface-to-surface missile, mounted in two quadruple launch tubes at the main deck level between the funnel and the helicopter hangar. For anti-aircraft self-defense, the Gwanggaeto the Great class carries 16 RIM-7P Sea Sparrow. The Gwanggaeto the Great class also carries two 30mm Goalkeeper to provide a shipboard point-defense against incoming anti-ship missiles and aircraft. The main gun on the forecastle is an OTO Melara 127 gun.