South will develop its own type of SLBM: source

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South will develop its own type of SLBM: source

The South Korean Military is developing submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), a high-ranking military official said.

“On the 3,000-ton Jangbogo-III submarine, which is currently under production, we are installing a vertical launching pad,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. SLBMs are fired undersea and are therefore difficult to detect by radar. He added, “The installation of a vertical launching pad indicates that the SLBM is already under development.” The official also went on to say that the SLBM is being developed under the aegis of the Agency of Defense Development and is expected to be completed by 2020.

The South Korean Navy’s arsenal currently includes the submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM). However, as North Korea’s endeavor to develop SLBM technology has almost reached completion, the need within the South Korean military to initiate a response has become urgent.

“Although the SLBM may lack the accuracy of the SLCM, which is equipped with a guidance system, its velocity and destructive capability are significantly greater,” said Kim Hyeok-soo, first commander of a submarine flotilla and now-retired rear admiral. “The deployment of the speedy and stealthy SLMB will allow the South Korean Navy to deliver a blow to North Korea before the situation even escalates to emergency levels.”

Another official said, “The military has already deployed surface-to-air missiles that use cold-launching mechanisms - a technology used by the SLBM, in which the engine fires after the missile reaches a certain altitude. We are trying to apply that mechanism so that the missiles can be fired underwater.”

“North Korea, however, is applying the technology of the Russian surface-to-air missile, the S300, to its SLBMs,” Lee Choon-geun, senior researcher at Korean Institue of Science and Technology, said. “As far as I know, South Korea uses more stable technology by taking the S400 that was obtained from Russia as a repayment of its debt to South Korea.”

The S400 is a technologically superior missile with embedded cold-launching technology.

If the development of SLBMs finishes as scheduled, South Korean military authorities plan to equip the Jangbogo-III submarine with SLBMs, as this submarine which will have been turned over to the Navy by 2020.

Meanwhile, military authorities have decided to upgrade the second version of the Jangbogo-III submarine from 3,000 tons to 3,400 tons.

BY JEONG YONG-SOO [jeong.byungki@joongang.co.kr]

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