Korean-made missiles to replace aging Hawks

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Korean-made missiles to replace aging Hawks

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said Thursday it will begin to mass produce and deploy the domestically-made medium-range surface-to-air Cheongung missile to the Korean Air Force by the end of the year.

Recently, the state-run Agency for Defense Development successfully test-fired the new missile, also called the M-SAM, at its Anheung testing site in Taean County, South Chungcheong, said an official from DAPA.

The missile was developed by the Agency for Defense Development from 2001 and completed in 2011 and has a maximum range of 40 kilometers (24.8 miles) and a weight of 400 kilograms (881 pounds).

“After the successful test-firing, mass production [of the missile] will begin and it will be deployed by the end of the year,” the official continued. He added that the missile exhibited excellent performance and passed a quality certification procedure.

The Cheongung missile, aimed at intercepting targets flying at an altitude under 15 kilometers, is set to replace the Korean Air Force’s outdated American medium-range surface-to-air MIM-23 Hawk missiles, which were phased out of U.S. military service in 2002.

“Once the Cheongung is deployed, it will be able to fill the gap caused by the aging Hawk missiles,” the official added, “and be helpful in reducing the defense budget by replacing imported missiles.”

DAPA has faced various corruption scandals recently. It established a task force to do the test-firing of the M-SAM for greater objectivity.

The M-SAM and L-SAM (long-range surface-to-air missile) in development and PAC-2 (Patriot Advanced Capability-2) and PAC-3 missiles comprise the Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD), Seoul’s alternative to the U.S.-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or Thaad, system.

If the longer-range L-SAM fails to shoot down a target, the PAC-3 and medium-range surface-to-air M-SAM missiles should be able to intercept them as they descend further, enabling a multi-layered missile defense system.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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