Korea to buy 90 more Taurus missiles from U.S.

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Korea to buy 90 more Taurus missiles from U.S.

In response to Pyongyang’s continued provocations, the South Korean Air Force will purchase more Taurus long-range air-to-surface missiles, said a military official Tuesday.

“At a time when North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities are becoming a reality,” the official said, “our targets have increased so we have decided to acquire 90 additional Taurus missiles.”

This is in addition to the 170 Taurus missiles that will be brought in and deployed to the Air Force in November, a first for an Asian country, the official added.

The Taurus, which can strike targets up to 500 kilometers (311 miles) away, will be able to target key buildings and facilities in Pyongyang if launched from Daegu, North Gyeongsang, where the F-15K Slam Eagle fighter jet air base is located. And if fired from near the military demarcation line between the two countries, this would put all of North Korea in range.

This makes striking strategic targets in the North possible without having to enter North Korean airspace, which is a significant tactical advantage, as the country is strong in antiaircraft assets.

The high precision cruise missile, manufactured by Swedish-German venture Taurus Systems, can detect and trace its target using a GPS retriever, image based navigation (IBN) sensors and terrain referenced navigation (TRN). It can also send images of the target through its high-resolution thermographic camera prior to attack. The Taurus has been shown to have an extremely high accuracy rate.

It is capable of penetrating up to six meters (19.7 feet) of reinforced concrete using its multiple warhead system.

The missile has a length of 5.1 meters and weighs 1,400 tons, with a warhead that weights 480 kilograms (1058 pounds). It has stealth capabilities to evade enemy radar and can fly as low as 50 meters at a speed of Mach 0.95 (729 miles per hour). The military is also looking into acquiring a small diameter bomb II, or SDB-II, in response to North Korea’s transporter erector launcher (TEL), or mobile missile launcher.

The SDB-II, which can be fired from an F-15K fighter, is capable of striking moving targets over 60 kilometers away, regardless of weather. It is manufactured by American defense manufacturer Raytheon.

The military official said, “This is a very new weapon that the U.S. Air Force also recently deployed.”

BY JEONG YONG-SOO, SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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