July 26, 2016 09:19
The U.S. Forces Korea will deploy new PAC-3 missiles with intercept altitude about twice as high as the current ones here next year, a source said Monday.
The move aims to quell criticism that the controversial Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery to be deployed here will only defend U.S. equipment and personnel but do little to keep Seoul safe.
The source said the USFK will deploy PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement interceptors "in response to the mounting nuclear and missile threats from North Korea."
The USFK currently has 64 PAC-2 and PAC-3 missiles at its bases in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, Gunsan, North Jeolla Province, and Waegwan, North Gyeongsang Province.
The PAC-3 MSE's intercept altitude is 40 km, twice as high as the existing PAC-3 missiles'. Its accuracy has also been improved with enhanced rocket engines and missile control fins.
The U.S. Army signed a contract on the purchase of PAC-3 MSE missiles worth US$611 million with Lockheed Martin in 2014.
Once they are deployed, the USFK will have a three-stage missile defense system ranging from PAC-3 to PAC-3 MSE to the THAAD to intercept incoming ballistic missiles at altitudes of 40 to 150 km.
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