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South Korea to build destroyers that can be fitted with missile interceptors

By Elizabeth Shim

April 30 (UPI) -- South Korea said Tuesday it is closer to building destroyers and attack submarines that could respond to the "changing security environment" on the peninsula.

Seoul's Defense Acquisition Program Administration said at a defense initiative committee meeting the plan is to build KDX-III Batch II Aegis destroyers, and KSS-III 3,000-ton indigenously designed diesel-electric attack submarines, Newsis reported.

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The KDX-III Batch-II could be the first South Korea vessel class to be fitted with directed energy weapons, or SM-3 interceptors.

The Aegis destroyers would be an improved version of the 7,600-ton King Sejong-class destroyer that began to be deployed in the South in December 2008.

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The next generation South Korean vessels can be equipped with a vertical launcher capable of shooting SM-3 ballistic missiles that can travel to an altitude of about 300 miles, DAPA said.

The future submarines would also include an increased detection range and low-frequency sonar, according to the report.

The three Aegis ships are likely to be built by the year 2028, and will require an investment of $3.3 billion. Hyundai Heavy Industries is to be involved in the exploratory development of the destroyers.

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A DAPA official told Newsis the destroyers are being considered to prepare for potential conflicts at sea, and for "overseas peacekeeping operations."

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Nuclear talks with North Korea have stalled since February, when Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump failed to reach a deal on denuclearization.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has asked both sides to return to talks, but the road ahead could be long, Moon's unification minister said Tuesday, according to Yonhap.

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Kim Yeon-chul told a group of overseas Korean journalists inter-Korea trust building has a long way to go, but that "it is a path that we should take."

North Korea declined to attend a ceremony marking the one-year anniversary of the first Moon-Kim summit over the weekend.

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