North Korea has a new anti-ship missile with a range of 130 km that poses a big threat to South Korea's elderly patrol corvettes.
A recent propaganda film shown on North Korean state TV shows the missile is similar to the U.S.' Harpoon missile, a military source here said Sunday. "It's probably either the Russian-developed Kh-35 Uran or a copy."
The missile was shown among the country's closely guarded submarines, which were also featured for the first time.
The Kh-35 was developed in Russia in the mid-90s and has been exported to Burma, India and Vietnam. It is hard to intercept as it flies 4 to 15 m above the waters.
South Korea's Aegis and other newer destroyers are equipped with rapid-fire machine guns and electronic warfare systems that can intercept or disturb such a missile. But older patrol corvettes or escort ships, whose duties lie mainly near the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border, have no such weapons so the missiles could pose a significant threat to them.
Until recently, the North Korean Navy had only the Styx missile, which was developed in the 50s with a range of 46 km, rising to 80 km in the improved version, and that is vulnerable to electronic jamming.
Military authorities here are reportedly trying to find out where the North bought the Kh-35 missiles, on the assumption that it was clandestinely imported from a third country like Burma.