S. Korea endorses mass-production of Haegung intercept missiles for warships

By Lim Chang-won Posted : September 10, 2019, 17:49 Updated : September 10, 2019, 17:49

[Courtesy of LIG Nex1]

SEOUL -- South Korea approved the mass production of a close-in weapon system called "Haegung (sea bow)," designed to intercept missiles and aircraft, that would replace American missiles used by South Korean warships. The surface-to-air anti-missile system, known as K-SAAM, has a maximum range of 20 kilometers (12 miles).

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said Tuesday that approval came from a military procurement body chaired by South Korea's defense minister. Some 750 billion won ($627 million) was earmarked for the mass production of Haegung from this year through 2036.

The development of Haegung with a dual detector system -- active radar guidance and an infrared detector -- began in 2011 to replace Raytheon's Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM). It adopted a vertical firing method.

Haegung has been related to the development of Cheongung, a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system with technical support from Russia's Almaz-Antey and Fakel, that can intercept targets up to an altitude of 15 km at a range of 40 km.

South Korea has strived to develop an independent three-tier aerial and missile defense system, based mainly on Russian technology. A low-tier missile defense system was in the final phase of development.

The Cheolmae 4-H L-SAM, based on the Russian S-400 technology, is an upper-tier interceptor to offer capabilities similar to that of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, an advanced missile shield deployed by American troops in South Korea. Because U.S companies are reluctant to transfer technology, South Korean developers have forged strategic partnerships with Russian firms.

In 2018, policymakers decided to deploy the first batch of batteries by 2023 for the Cheolmae-2 (Cheongung) middle-tier missile defense system which can intercept targets at an altitude of up to 40 km. Cheolmae-2 was compared to American Patriot systems. A complete battery consists of up to six transporter erector launchers, an X-band 3D radar, and a fire command vehicle.
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