South Korea will procure new Patriot missiles capable of intercepting North Korea's ballistic missiles starting in 2016. The Defense Project Promotion Committee chaired by Minister Kim Kwan-jin reached the decision on Wednesday.
The military now has a PAC-2 Patriot air defense system which can destroy an incoming ballistic missile or aircraft with shrapnel by exploding near it.
But it has a low interception rate and debris from the exploded missile can cause damage on the ground.
In contrast, the newer PAC-3 has a higher interception rate and directly hits the target.
The PAC-3 will be able to intercept a North Korean ballistic missile at an altitude of 40 km. It is being produced by U.S. arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin, which also makes the F-35A, a candidate for South Korea's next-generation fighter system.