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Cheolmae II / Cheongung (Iron Hawk)
M-SAM Medium Surface to Air Missile

M-SAM medium range surface-to-air missileis a hit-to-kill missile that can intercept incoming missiles at an altitude of 20 kilometers. The KM-SAM is the middle-tier of South Korea’s three-tier aerial and missile defense system. The M-SAM, which is also known as the Cheolmae-2 or Cheongung (Iron Hawk), was developed in Russia by OKB Almaz with the assistance of Samsung Thales, LIG Nex1, and Doosan DST for the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) . Localization and industrialization was carried out in South Korea enough to be considered a local system, based on technology from the 9M96 missile used on S-350E and S-400 missile systems.

The Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) finally-replaced its ageing MIM-23 HAWK surface-to-air missile systems and replaced them with KM-SAM systems. In July 2021 Unit 2970, a battalion-level formation under the RoKAF’s 1st Air Defense Missile Brigade, retired the HAWK system, which had been in South Korean service since 1983, as well as the AN/TSQ-73 air-defence command-and-control system, which had been in service for 39 years.

Each missile system consists of a multipurpose radar, a fire control system, a launch system, as well as eight Chhonggun missiles. The complex was initially capable of hitting aircraft at an altitude of 10-15 km. The complete battery consists of six 8-cell transporter mounting launchers (TEL), a passive electronically scanned array (PESA) X-band multifunctional phased array 3D radar (based on the Russian S-400) and a command fire engine. The radar operates in the X-band and rotates at 40 rpm, covering up to 80 degrees in height. It can detect targets within a 100 km (62 mi) radius and track up to 40 simultaneously.

The Koreans noted that their new multipurpose radar system "Chonggun" has the ability to track aircraft, identifying on the principle of "friend or foe", and intercept up to six targets simultaneously. The launch system itself is vertically oriented. After launching the rocket, it is controlled by radar. The missile is capable of rapidly changing direction of flight and performing deceptive maneuvers while evading interception systems. In addition, each missile is equipped with devices that allow it to continue to perform its mission and, when the enemy tries to put electromagnetic interference.

The radar contains a Rotating phased-array antenna (60 rpm) with Full electronic scanning, with large deflection (+/- 45° in elevation and bearing). With electronic beam steering, very low sidelobes and a narrow pencil beam mainlobe, the MFMTR phased array is more difficult to detect and track by an aircraft’s warning receiver when not directly painted by the radar, and vastly more difficult to jam. While it may have detectable backlobes, these are likely to be hard to detect from the forward sector of the radar. As most anti-radiation missiles rely on sidelobes to home in, the choice of engagement geometry is critical in attempting to kill a MFMTR. This radar provides a highly mobile 3D search and acquisition capability, but is limited in low level coverage footprint by its antenna elevation.

The specialised MFMTR is a high power-aperture, coherent, X-band phased array designed for the rapid acquisition and initial tracking of inbound ballistic missiles within a 90 degree sector. The primary search waveform is chirped to provide a very high pulse compression ratio intended to provide very high range resolution of small targets. The design uses a high power Travelling Wave Tube (TWT) source, very low side lobes and frequency hopping techniques to provide good resistance to jamming. Russian sources are unusually detailed on ECCM techniques used, claiming the use of three auxiliary receiver channels for cancelling side lobe jamming, automatic wind compensated rejection of chaff returns, and provisions in the MTI circuits to reject jamming. A facility for precise angular measurement of jamming emitters is included.

In 1998, North Korea successfully test-fired its Taepodong-I missile, which flew over Japan and landed in the Pacific. South Korea hastened the development of a hit-to-kill missile system that was capable of intercepting incoming missiles in the aftermath of North Korea's successful test launch of this medium range missile. The Defense Ministry initiated a program to develop a middle range surface-to-air missile, codenamed, "M-SAM" in 1998. The ministry aimed to enable the new missile to intercept small targets like missiles.

The radar would be developed by Lucky Goldstar, and the combat data system would be jointly created by Lucky Goldstar and Sangyong. The missile and launcher would be developed by Samsung. The expected date of service was 2010, same date when HAWK systems was to be withdrawn from service.

South Korea enlisted the technological help of Russia in the development of the M-SAM in such areas as electronic guidance. The M-SAM program was aimed at developing a missile which has a striking range of 30 to 60 km, in order to replace the existing Hawk missiles that form the backbone of Korea's anti-aircraft system along with its Nikes, which have a range of 150 km. With the help of Russian experts, the Korean experts were able to improve the system, in particular, replacing the massive radar with a more compact device that can be installed on a truck. In addition, when creating engines for Korean missiles, the principles laid down in the Russian 9M96 missiles were widely used.

Following the Taepo-dong test firing, lawmakers demanded the beefing up of the nation's anti-missile attack capabilities when the National Assembly's defense committee was called into session in the aftermath of the North's missile test launch. Initial plans called for the investment of a total of 200 to 300 billion won in the development of the M-SAM by 2008.

To counter the growing threat posed by North Korean ballistic missile, the missile to be developed would be able to intercept a missile, a function its predecessor Hawk didn't have. The model ROK was trying to emulate in the M-SAM development was Russia's S-300 missile. The final product would be like the S-300 but shorter in range. Korea and Russia established a technology transfer agreement in the military field.

In 1997 members of the US Congress voiced deep concern over the possibility that South Korea may procure Russian S-300 systems for air defense as opposed to the US Patriot system. They argued that the Patriot possessed superior radar and engagement capabilities and requires less manpower to operate and maintain. Most importantly, acquisition of the Patriot ensures interoperability with other assets assigned to US Forces, Korea enhancing the overall safety and combat effectiveness of US and allied forces. Considering the almost half century relationship between our two countries, and the closeness with which our troops train together, it would be most unfortunate for South Korean allies to procure a non-U.S. air defense system.

In 2006, NPO Almaz manufactured and dispatched an MFRLS demonstrator to South Korea. The South Korean military conducted tests with an experimental locator in various climatic conditions and as close as possible to combat conditions. The radar was demonstrated at a number of military exhibitions.

In May 2006 the country's weapons acquisition agency announced that it would start a W625 billion project to develop the M-SAM middle-range surface-to-air missiles. In June 2006. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) approved the project, which was to enter service in 2010, a spokesman of the agency said. The missile would be co-developed by about 15 Korean defense firms and Russia which would give technological help in such areas as electronic guidance, he said. The M-SAM program, initiated in 1998, was aimed at developing a missile capable of hitting a target of 30 to 60 kilometers away, replacing aging Hwak missiles. Hawk missiles with a striking range of 150 kilometers, had been the backbone of South Korea's anti-aircraft system. To counter the growing threat posed by North Korean ballistic missile, the Air Force also planned to buy 48 advanced Patriot missile interceptors to replace the existing Nike Hercules missiles.

In the spring of 2006. a new contract was signed with South Korea, which entered into force on 01 October 2006. Thus, the third stage of the creation of the MFRS for the KM-SAM air defense system began. NPO Almaz undertook to develop and manufacture two prototypes of MFRS, as well as to ensure testing, preparation of serial production and delivery of design documentation for MFRS. The total term of the contract was 5 years. The term of production and delivery of two prototypes of MFRS was 3 years. The Korean-European joint venture Samsung-Thales is responsible for coordinating the contract from the Korean side. This contract is a special type of military-technical cooperation in which a finished product is not supplied to a foreign customer, but research and development work is carried out in such a sensitive area for national defense as air defense.

South Korea gave the green light for the development of the Cheolmae II surface-to-air missile (SAM). This project could cost KRW498.5 billion (USD1=KRW944) through 2011. This system would be capable of engaging aircraft and missiles. The South Korean Ministry of National Defense also plans to build the THAAD system, capable of intercepting high-altitude ballistic missiles. For this purpose, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense was promoting the work of improving the intermediate-range Cheolmae-2 surface-to-air missiles to the level of the upgraded S-400 type of ballistic missile interceptor system (Cheolmae 4-H).

The ROKN was interested in developing Cheolmae-2, also called M-SAM, land-based SAM system for shipboard use. The Cheolmae-2 missile itself was a variant of the Russian 9M96 missile of S-400 system and its fire control radar was an X-band rotator. Almaz of Russia was building two fire control radar prototypes as of 2007.

The M-SAM program was aimed at developing a missile which has a striking range of 30 to 60 km, in order to replace the existing Hawk missiles that formed the backbone of Korea's anti-aircraft system along with its Nikes, which have a range of 150 km. The Hawk units were still reliable though antiquated, but the Nikes were totally worthless. The HAWK surface-to-air missiles were located in 110 launchers deployed over 24 sites and at major air force installations. The Hawk was due for retirement in 2010.

The medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, now called "Cheongung" (Iron Hawk), was unveiled in 2011 after a five-year R&D program by a consortium of 15 South Korean defense firms in a bid to beef up the country's air and missile defense. South Korea planned to produce indigenously-developed surface-to-air guided missiles in 2013 to gradually deliver them to the military starting in 2015, military sources said 10 September 2012.

The state-run Defense Acquisition and Procurement Agency (DAPA) planned to sign a deal in 2012 to enter into production in 2013. The military would begin fielding the missiles starting in 2015 and complete it by 2018 or 2019. Cheongung can intercept targets at an altitude of up to 15 kilometers and at a range of about 40 km, and simultaneously attack several targets with a multiple radar system.

Korea would deploy indigenous surface-to-air guided missiles by the end of 2015 as testing has been successfully completed, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), 30 July 2015. "The Defense Agency for Technology and Quality (DTaQ) successfully conducted the quality certification firing of the Cheongung in late July," said the DAPA in a press release. "Mass production will begin in earnest this year following the completion of the quality-certification process." A DAPA official noted that the product received a pass mark if it hit its target twice out of three test-fires.

The South Korean military reportedly deployed the newly developed anti-aircraft missile system along the maritime border in the Yellow Sea in March 2016. The surface-to-air guided missile system known as Cheongung was deployed in the northwest islands early in 2016 to defend against North Korean aircraft.

South Korea had almost completed development of a key weapon for the Korean Air and Missile Defense system. A military official said on 16 April 2017 that the development of the M-SAM missile system was in the final stage with all tests completed. The official said that the military will assess the missiles’ suitability for combat purposes in May 2017. M-SAM missiles reportedly satisfied the required operational capability of the military, including the interception rate.

ADD specialists intended to bring Chhongun to the level of the PAC-3 ballistic interceptor missile. As a result, Chhonggun will become the basis of the Korean missile defense system aimed at protecting the country from missile attacks from the DPRK. For this purpose, the "ceiling" of target destruction will be increased to 30 km, and the range to 100-150 km. Local media reported, citing military sources, that seven out of eight Cheongun missiles hit their targets during the latest tests, which was considered a good result.

. On 28 April 2020, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced that deliveries of the Cheongung M-SAM Block-1 system to the ROKAF had been completed. On November 12, 2020, a ceremony was held in South Korea for the transfer of the first battery of the upgraded Cheongung (KM-SAM) Block 2 air defense systems to the troops. Compared to the previous nationally produced Cheongung (KM-SAM) air defense system in the Block 1 version, the modified version has an increased range of destruction targets up to 50 km, and an altitude of up to 20 kmIn July 2021, South Korea retired its last MIM-23 Hawk system, phasing it out for the Cheongung Block-1. It should be noted that the Cheongung (KM-SAM) Block 2 air defense system was developed with the active assistance of the Russian JSC Concern VKO Almaz-Antey. The Russian side was responsible for the creation of a multifunctional radar and command post of the complex, as well as an anti-aircraft guided missile (based on missiles series 9M96).

ADD plans to further develop the M-SAM as an anti-missile missile similar to the Patriot PAC-3, with an increased range of 100–150 km (62–93 miles) and a coverage height of 30 km (98,000 ft). The Cheolmae-2 medium-range anti-aircraft missile can be launched from the Korean vertical launch system (K-VLS) aboard Daegu -class frigates in the role of the navy.

  • M-SAM
  • KM-SAM
  • Cheolmae-2
  • Cheongung
  • type Surface-to-air missile / Anti-ballistic missile
    Place of originSouth Korea + Russia
    Service South Korea
    DesignerDefense Development Agency +
    Almaz-Antey [9M96E / 9M96M]
    ManufacturerLIG Nex1
    Produced 2015-present
    Weight400 kg (880 lb) (rocket)
    Length4.61 m (15.1 feet)
    Diameter27.5 cm (10.8 inches)
    Maximum firing range40 kilometers (25 miles)
    EngineSolid fuel rocket motor
    Flight altitude15-20 km (49,000-66,000 feet)
    Maximum speedMach 4.5 (1.0 mph; 1.5 km/s)
    Guidance systeminertial guidance with mid-course updates,
    active radar guidance for terminal

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    Page last modified: 09-03-2022 19:42:17 ZULU