South Korea deployed its first Aegis-equipped destroyer Monday as part of a program to boost its naval forces, the navy said.
The 7,600-ton-class ship is armed with the U.S. Aegis radar and combat system enabling it to detect and trace 1,000 targets and strike 20 of them simultaneously, the navy said in a statement.
The warship is the first of three Aegis-equipped destroyers that South Korea plans to deploy in coming years, according to the navy.
“Our navy … can completely protect our forces from threats by enemy missiles and jets and has obtained precision striking capability,” Jung Ok-keun, the navy chief of staff, said in comments on the deployment, according to the statement.
South Korea shares the world’s most heavily fortified border with North Korea, and naval skirmishes sometimes occur along their disputed maritime frontier.
South Korea launched the Aegis ship in May last year and has been testing its capability before its actual deployment, the navy said. South Korea was the world’s fifth nation to commission an Aegis destroyer after the United States, Japan, Spain and Norway.
The divided states are still technically at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. Tensions on the peninsula have been running high since a pro-U.S., conservative government took office in Seoul in February with a pledge to take a tough line on the North.