June 28 (UPI) -- South Korea's Navy announced a plan Wednesday to replace its naval patrol ships operating near the tense inter-Korean sea border with upgraded ones.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration, the country's arms procurement agency, said it has signed a $223 million agreement with Hanjin Heavy Industries, a local shipyard, for four 200-ton high-speed patrol boats.
The Gumdoksuri (golden eagle)-class ships will be delivered to the Navy in 2020 to replace existing 170-ton Chamsuri (sea eagle)-class ones operating in waters near the Northern Limit Line, the de-factor maritime border between the two Koreas, it said.
Two deadly naval skirmishes between the two sides occurred in the Yellow Sea close to the NLL in 1999 and 2002, respectively.
The new model that carries around 20 crew members will be equipped with a 130-mm guided rocket, a 76-mm gun and a K-6 remote fire control system, according to the DAPA.
The first ship of the Gumdoksuri-B Batch-I will be handed over to the Navy at the end of this year, with three more to be delivered in late 2019.