June 19, 2017 12:38
South Korea on Sunday passed a new home-grown interceptor missile for deployment against North Korean missile attacks.
The M-SAM, a medium range surface-to-air missile dubbed Cheolmae-2, intercepted all five dummy ballistic missiles in a recent test. This means the development is officially complete, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said. "It's possible to start mass-production of the missile later this year," a spokesman said.
The M-SAM is a hit-to-kill missile interceptor that collides with incoming ballistic missiles at an altitude below 20 km. Each costs about W1.5 billion (US$1=W1,135).
It will form the low-altitude air defense alongside the U.S.-made PAC-3 missiles with an intercept altitude of about 20 km, which will be procured next year.
Military authorities are also developing a long-range surface-to-air missile that can intercept missiles at an altitude of 40 to 60 km.
They have moved up the target date for the completion of the entire missile defense system from the mid-2020s to earlier in the decade given the rapid advances in North Korea's missile technology.
But experts worry that the system will not be sufficient because it focuses on low-altitude defense.
Only the U.S.' Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery being stationed in southwestern Korea can intercept missiles at a high altitude.
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