South Korea and the U.S. are reportedly planning to combine their separate missile defenses here. Seoul is saying that the combined system will not be integrated into the U.S.-Japan missile defense system, but a certain degree of integration seems inevitable since the U.S.' missile defense systems in South Korea and Japan are linked.
The two sides are considering linking Seoul's air and missile defense cell, which will be built in Osan, Gyeonggi Province in late December, with the U.S. Forces Korea's Patriot air defense missile system.
The foreign and defense ministers of the two countries in Washington last Friday "agreed to seek ways to strengthen combined defense posture against a mounting threat of missile strikes from North Korea," a government source here said.
"From now on, the two countries will cooperate in detecting and identifying North Korea's missile bases and facilities while continuing to discuss the extension of the range of Seoul’s ballistic missiles and the number of anti-air missiles the two countries would keep," the source added.
The new combined system will include PAC-2 Patriot missiles, medium-range Cheolmae-2 surface-to-air missiles, Hyunmu-3 cruise missiles and Aegis destroyers from South Korea, and USFK's PAC-3 Patriot missiles and surveillance systems.
But the source said this will be "different" from the U.S.-Japan missile defense system against long-range ballistic missiles. "The U.S.-South Korean system will combine air defense and surveillance systems of our military and the USFK, whose operational range covers only the Korean Peninsula."