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South Korea develops supersonic cruise missile

South Korea is about to become one of the few countries to produce supersonic cruise missiles, senior defense officials said Monday. Eq...

South Korea is about to become one of the few countries to produce supersonic cruise missiles, senior defense officials said Monday.

Equipped with the new missiles, they said Seoul will be able to significantly improve its defense capabilities against North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats.

Currently, only the United States, Russia, France, China and India are known to possess supersonic cruise missiles. 

“All I can say for now is that it will be able to fly faster than Mach 1,” a senior official at the state-run Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said on condition of anonymity. 

Though he declined to provide more details as the project is classified, he noted that the supersonic missile is capable of evading the North’s defense systems and striking launch pads with high accuracy. 

A ranking official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) confirmed that the latest cruise missile is named Haeseong II, supersonic modification of the anti-ship Haeseong I. 

Seoul developed the Haeseong I with a range of 150 kilometers in 2003 and deployed them on KDX-II and Aegis-equipped KDX-III destroyers, each carrying eight and 16, respectively. 

“The Haeseong II is a ship-to-surface cruise missile, designed to strike ground targets,” said the official who serves as a liaison between the U.S. and Korean governments over missile development. 

“Korea has been independently developing it without technology transfer from the United States, but has been closely consulting with Washington in accordance with the New Missile Guidelines (NMG) agreed between the two allies.”

The two sides signed the NMG in January 2001, which requires Seoul to give Washington prior notification of any missile test-firing in return for easing some restrictions on development. 

The official added that the Haeseong II will not be exported as Korea is a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the multinational effort to restrict the proliferation of missiles. 

The MTCR prohibits the export of missiles, unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), and related technology for systems capable of carrying a 500 kilogram payload for at least 300 kilometers.

An informed source said that the Haeseong II will be deployed around 2013 when the development of vertical and slant launch systems will be completed. 

He added that the missile range will exceed 500 kilometers, allowing Seoul to hit most of the major military facilities in North Korea and preempt any attacks.

Earlier, anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks revealed a U.S. diplomatic cable that gave a glimpse into the development of Korea’s first supersonic cruise missile. 

According to the WikiLeaks, Korea carried out about 10 tests of the Haeseong II between September 2007 and November 2009 in Anheung Proving Ground in the western coastal city of Taean, South Chungcheong Province. 

The empty weight of the Haeseong II is about 1,000 kilograms and it can carry about 270 kilograms of fuel, according to a document classified as secret and written on Aug. 31, 2007 by the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. 

According to another embassy cable from March 13, 2009, “Production is planned to commence in 2010,” but the MOFAT official refuted this, saying further tests are scheduled. 

He also noted that the U.S. Embassy classified Haeseong as UAV as it has a sophisticated, built-in control and guidance system, but it should be regarded as a cruise missile as it is not reusable once launched. 

“The Haeseong II is not an UAV since it not capable of carrying out multiple missions and is not designed for reconnaissance. Its prime objective is destroying enemy targets,” the official said.




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