SOUTH KOREA - 24 MARCH 2011 South Korea launched its third Aegis-equipped destroyer Thursday, which will become the centerpiece of its strategic mobile fleet aimed at enhancing capabilities to deter North Korean aggression and conduct broader-range operations. The 7,600-ton KDX-III destroyer, the Seoae Ryu Seong-ryong, was unveiled to the media during the launch ceremony at a shipyard of its builder, Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. in the southeastern coastal city of Ulsan. The ceremony was attended by Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Kim Sung-chan, Hyundai Heavy Industries president Lee Jai-seong and other government and military officials. The high-tech destroyer measuring 166 meters in length, 21 meters in width is named after Ryu Seong-ryong (1542-1607), a revered scholar and military strategist during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Seoae is his pen name. The destroyer will be delivered to the Navy in the latter half of 2012 after various evaluations on it are carried out, officials said. Its operational deployment is expected to begin in the middle of 2013 after at least nine months of preparations, they said. In addition to its state-of-the-art Aegis radar system, the destroyer is equipped with long and mid-range vessel-to-air missiles, ship-to-ship missiles and torpedoes as well as a vertical missile launch system. The vessel can also accommodate two mid-sized helicopters to counter other possible threats at sea. Produced by U.S. defense firm Lockheed Martin, the Aegis radar system is capable of simultaneously detecting some 1,000 enemy planes that are hundreds of kilometers away, and attacking about 20 of them at the same time, the Navy explained. The destroyer can carry 300 sailors and sail at a maximum speed of 30 knots. Under a project, codenamed KDX-III, South Korea has built three Aegis destroyers. The project is known to have cost around 3 trillion won ($2.67 billion). The countryâ€™s first Aegis destroyer, the Sejong the Great, was deployed for operational use in December 2008, while the second one, the Yulgok Yi Yi, was put into service in September 2010. Source: Herald Media Inc.