A Korean-made ship-to-ground cruise missile dubbed Cheonryong with a range of more than 500 km is about to be deployed on warships including a 4,500-ton KDX destroyer in the West Sea, sources say.
This is going to be the first deployment of a homegrown ship-launched cruise missile.
Ship-to-ground missiles have a wider and more flexible potential range than ground-launched ones. The Cheonryong is capable of hitting North Korean surface-to-ship missile bases on the west coast from the East Sea as well as the West Sea. It can eventually be launched even from a 3,000 ton submarine which is under development.
"We completed development of the ship-to-ground cruise missile earlier than expected based on the successful development of the homegrown ground-to-ground cruise missile," a government source said on Monday, "We're planning to deploy the missile on Aegis ships such as the 7,600-ton-class King Sejong the Great, starting this year with the destroyer deployed at the Second Navy Fleet on the west coast in preparation for further provocations by the North."
The missiles could hit North Korean coastal artillery batteries or ground-to-ship missile bases if the North launches fresh attacks like the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island last year, obviating the need to scramble Air Force fighter jets.
In the past, South Korean warships had to move out of range of the North's Silkworm ground-to-ship missiles on the west coast, which have a range of 95 km, whenever any movement of missiles is detected. But from now on, they can hit the North's missile bases from out of range of the North's missiles.