SEOUL, Jan. 6 (UPI)
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff have decided to procure three additional Aegis destroyers, bringing its Aegis fleet to six ships.
The vessels will be procured by the mid-2020s if a budget for them is secured, boosting the country's naval defenses against threats from North Korea, according to Ministry of National Defense officials.
"We'll expand our ballistic missile detection and tracking, and anti-submarine capability to prepare for asymmetric threats from North Korea, such as nuclear weapons, missiles and submarines, and their local provocation," an unidentified official said. "In real wartime, we will significantly improve our area anti-aircraft defense and striking power against surface ships and ground high-payoff targets.
"Moreover, for the potential threat around the Korean Peninsula, we will improve our reaction capability on the ocean sovereignty defense."
South Korea's Navy operates three Aegis destroyers, which were procured in 2008, 2010 and 2012. While one is operational, one is used as a standby vessel, with the third in maintenance.
"As we're seeking for further military strength, such as a task fleet, additional Aegis ships are essential for more effective operation," an MND official said.