The Navy will deploy Korean-made Hongsangeo (Red Shark) "submarine-killer" torpedoes on the Navy's top-end Aegis destroyer this month, it emerged on Sunday.
"The Navy installed a torpedo launch system on the King Sejong the Great late last month and began the final sea acceptance test on Aug. 8," a military source said. "The tests are going well, so it'll be possible to deploy the torpedoes on the destroyer sometime late this month."
The Hongsangeo is an anti-submarine missile that is launched vertically to avoid detection by enemy submarines and to increase its range. It is dropped by parachute near the intended target. After release, the torpedo falls into the water and independently searches for the target.
The Agency for Defense Development spent W100 billion (US$1=W1,081) over the nine years until 2009 on developing the Hongsangeo. It has a longer range and much higher accuracy than light torpedoes launched by conventional vessels or aircraft.
"Deployment of the torpedo, which is launched vertically and attacks enemy submarine up to 30 km away, will drastically improve anti-submarine operations capabilities in both the East and West Seas," another military officer said.
The torpedoes, which measure 5.7 m by 0.38 m, weigh 820 kg and cost about W2 billion apiece, will also be deployed on the Aegis destroyer Yulgok Yi Yi sometime late this year.
Deployment comes at a time when China is flexing its nautical muscle near Korean waters, not least with the imminent launch of its first aircraft carrier.
Future Hope Alliance lawmaker Song Young-sun of the National Assembly Defense Committee said the torpedoes "could play a role in the containment of subs that typically escort an aircraft carrier fleet."