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Army Tactical Missile System (Army TACMS)

ATACMS enables the ROK Army to strike most of the critical ground military targets in North Korea. Under a 1979 accord with the US, South Korea had been barred from developing or deploying missiles with the range of more than 180 km until January 2001, when Seoul, after months of negotiations, obtained US approval to develop missiles with a range of up to 300 km. The US consent sparked speculation that it had given the green light to the missile development, in exchange for overseas sales of its medium-range missiles.

Seoul spent 390 billion won ($298 million) on the purchase of ATACMS Block 1 missile systems with a range of 145 km in October 1997 as part of its surface-to-surface missile procurement project. In June 1997 the ROK finalized an Multiple-Launch Rocket System (MLRS) deal with the US whereby it would receive 29 M270 self-propelled launchers and 111 ATACMS rockets and 708 training rockets.

The Defense Ministry requested 110 Block 1A missiles in December 1999, but negotiations hit a snag when the US continued to delay talks on allowing South Korea to deploy missiles with a range of up to 300km. In early 2000, the ministry sent a letter to Washington warning the cancellation of the missile procurement project if the US continued to bar South Korea from deploying missiles with a range of up to 300 km.

On 19 November 2001 the US Army awarded an $80.7 million contract to Lockheed Martin [LMT] to provide 110 Army Tactical Missile System missiles to South Korea. The missiles would be the Block I foreign military sales version of the missile, which is similar to the Block I version of the missile that first saw service in Operation Desert Storm. This missile is fitted with an internal ring laser gyro guidance system and a warhead fitted with 273 anti-personnel and anti-material bomblets.

On 04 December 2001 Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control announced that it had received an $80.7 million contract to produce 111 Army Tactical Missile System (Army TACMS) Block IA missiles for the Republic of Korea. The contract represented the second purchase of the Army TACMS system by Korea and the first international sale of the Army TACMS Block IA system. The Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract included 110 Army TACMS FMS Block IAs and one ATACMS FMS Block IA for testing, and 29 multiple rocket launchers. The contract with South Korea had a total value of 400 billion won ($307 million).

South Korea began deploying US-made missiles in December 2003 that can strike most of North Korea. The Army Tactical Missile System Block 1A missiles are being deployed near the Demilitarized Zone. South Korea deployed 110 surface-to-surface missiles with a range of up to 300 km (187 miles) by April 2004. This marks the first time that South Korea will deploy 300-km medium-range missiles, which are capable of striking Pyongyang and other key North Korean cities.

In June 2003, Hanwha obtained the license to locally produce the 227mm MLRS as part of the second stage MLRS procurement program. Hanwha produced and delivered MLRS rockets worth KRW600 billion each year to the ROK Army. Over 4,000 missiles had been ordered for the year 2005. The launchers were ready for the new 300 km-range ATACMS missile directly purchased from the US. The new extended-range MLRS systems have taken over the roles of USFK MLRS currently assigned for counter-battery missions.

South Korea deployed its first missiles with a maximum range of 300 km, which the Army will bought for 400 billion won (about $307 million) from a U.S. defense firm, in 2004. The two governments signed a contract in 2002 under which the Korean Army purchased the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) Block IA. Lockheed Martin supplied the systems. The contract included 29 multiple launch rocket systems and 111 surface-to-surface missiles, each with a warhead fitted with 300 anti-personnel and anti-material bomblets. South Korea was the first foreign buyer of the latest Lockheed missile systems. With a maximum range of 300 km, the missile is capable of hitting most positions in North Korea. The missiles are capable of engaging targets at ranges well beyond the capability of existing land-launched canons and rockets in South Korea. The missile is so powerful that each unit can destroy everything in an area as wide as three to four soccer stadiums at once. A Korean company affiliated with the Hanwha Group produces munitions for the missile systems under a license from Lockheed.




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