July 19, 2010 09:06
The military and the Agency for Defense Development have developed a cruise missile with a range of 1,500 km and deployed it warfare-ready.
The August issue of the monthly Chosun magazine published last Saturday quoted a military officer as saying the ADD began research and development for the Hyunmu-3C, a surface-to-surface cruise missile, in 2008, and has started mass-producing it. Hundreds of them will be deployed warfare-ready at an Army unit on the central frontline this year.
So far only the Hyunmu-3A, with a range of 500 km, and the Hyunmu-3B, with 1,000 km, were deployed.
The Hyunmu-3C brings North Korean nuclear and other major facilities like Scud and Rodong missile bases in South Pyongan, Kangwon, and South Hamgyong Provinces within range of the South Korean Army. The Hyunmu-3 series are being mass-produced by LIG Nex1. The Hyunmu-3C is 6 m long and 53-60 cm in diameter and weighs 1.5 tons. It is equipped with an aircraft jet engine.
It can fly at a speed of slightly less than Mach 1, or 1,260 km/h and carries a 450 kg warhead. Its accuracy is within 1-2 m. The missile is said to be equal in terms of functions to the U.S.-developed Tomahawk cruise missile.
Only six other countries -- the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia, China and Israel -- have cruise missiles with a range of more than 500 km, and only three -- the U.S., Russia and Israel -- have missiles with a range of 1,500 km or more.
"Deployment of the Hyunmu-3 missiles will enable precision strikes against North Korea's missile bases and bunkers in the early stages of any war," the officer added. "Until recently the range of South Korean missiles fell far short of major targets in the North, but with the new missiles we've overcome the disadvantage."
The Missile Technology Control Regime was revised in 2001 after the North's test-firing of long-range missiles so that South Korea is now allowed to build cruise missiles of any range with warheads weighing up to 500 kg but is still banned from developing ballistic missiles with a range of more than 300 km.
The Defense Ministry has focused on developing cruise missiles since the 1990s.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com