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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Hyunmoo 2B SLBM

In 2011 it was reported that the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) had developed the 500-kilometer-range, ship-launched Cheonryong, a modified variant of the surface-to-surface Hyunmoo III-A ballistic missile. The missile range could be extended up to 1,000 kilometers, according to military sources. The Cheonryong missiles are believed to have already been modified to be installed on Type-214 subs. South Korea has successfully developed the Hyunmoo III-C surface-to-surface ballistic missile with a maximum range of 1,500 kilometers, following the deployment of the 1,000-kilometer-range Hyunmoo III-B. With the VLS development, Korea would have an advantage in selling its submarines overseas in the future. Fired from an off-shore submarine, even a short range SLBM is capable of hitting targets anywhere in North Korea. Korea JoongAng Daily reported 30 May 2016 that the South Korean Military was developing submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), according to an un-named high-ranking military official. “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 included the submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM). However, as North Korea’s endeavor to develop SLBM technology had almost reached completion, the need within the South Korean military to initiate a response had 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 told Korea JoongAng Daily, “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 Institute of Science and Technology, told Korea JoongAng Daily. “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, Korea JoongAng Daily reported that South Korean military authorities planed to equip the Jangbogo-III submarine with SLBMs, as this submarine will be turned over to the Navy by 2020. Meanwhile, military authorities decided to upgrade the second version of the Jangbogo-III submarine from 3,000 tons to 3,400 tons.

While the South Korean defense official did not name the SLBM system, some observers speculated that the missile was a variant of the Hyunmoo-2B or its predecessor the Hyunmoo-2A, given that it can be also launched from submarines with vertical launching pads. Two Hyunmoo-2B (literally means “Guardian of the Northern Sky”) prototypes were test-fired in June 2015. The ballistic missile purportedly has a range of more than 310 miles and can carry a payload of up to 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilograms).

The ROK Navy will receive nine indigenously produced 3,400-ton diesel-electric KSS-III attack submarines, all with air-independent propulsion and a six-cell vertical launching system, from which up to 10 Hyunmoo-3C cruise missiles along with an unknown number of SLBMs can be fired.

The KSS-III "An Changho" conventional submarine of the South Korean Navy successfully conducted an underwater-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test on 03 July 2021, making South Korea the eighth country with an underwater-launched ballistic missile. The missile is an improvement of the "Hyunmoo-2B" Type, with a range of 500 kilometers, some South Korean experts said that nuclear-powered submarines should be developed next to deal with North Korean ballistic missile submarines.

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Page last modified: 06-07-2021 16:30:44 ZULU