October 14, 2013 09:23
Military authorities here worry about intelligence reports that North Korea is developing a new ground-to-ship ballistic missile with a range of 300 km which would be impossible to intercept with current weapons.
"The North is developing a new ground-to-ship ballistic missile with a range of 200-300 km, an improved version of the KN-02 ground-to-ground ballistic missile," whose range is 140 km, a military source said Friday. "We're trying to verify the report."
The North already has surface-to-ship cruise missiles like the KN-01 with a range of 160 km and the Silkworm missile with a range of 100 km. But ballistic missiles are more threatening because they are much faster.
North Korea's anti-ship subsonic cruise missiles can be intercepted with SM-2 ship-to-air missiles or the short-range air defense system of Aegis ships. But the current weapons systems of the South Korean Navy cannot intercept ballistic missiles since their maximum speed is four to five times the speed of sound.
China’s ballistic DF-21D, or "carrier killer," with a range of 1,500 km is considered a big threat by the U.S. If the North succeeds in developing such a missile, it would pose a threat to South Korean ships as well as the U.S. aircraft carrier fleet that would support large-scale landing operations in a war.
Given alleged military links between the North and Iran, authorities have taken note of Tehran's announcement in 2011 that it successfully tested an anti-ship ballistic missile with a range of 300 km.
"There's a likelihood that Tehran will support this project," the source added.
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