Seoul Develops 1,000-KM Cruise Missile
South Korea has developed a cruise missile with a range of 1,000 kilometers to counter North Korea's short- and medium-range missiles, a government source said yesterday.
The 1,000-kilometer range means the missile is able to hit strategic targets, including missile bases and nuclear weapons facilities entrenched deep in mountainous areas in the communist country. It is also capable of reaching as far as Beijing and Tokyo.
``The military has conducted a successful test of the missile recently,'' the source said on condition of anonymity.
He said the missile, aided by the Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) system, hit targets with a margin of error of plus or minus five meters during tests.
The missile will be part of the arsenal of the Navy's advanced vessels, including the 7,000-ton KDX-III Aegis destroyers that will be built from 2008, the source said, adding the Defense Ministry and the state-run Agency for Defense Development are now developing cruise missiles with a range of 1,500 kilometers.
Right after North Korea test-launched several missiles, including the long-range Taepodong-2 capable of hitting Alaska, into the East Sea last July, Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung pledged to develop sophisticated cruise missiles to deter North Korea's missile threat.
Yoon said developing long-range cruise missiles does not violate the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) agreed upon between Seoul and Washington in 2001.
The MTCR is an informal and voluntary association of countries which share the goal of non-proliferation of unmanned deliverance systems of weapons of mass destruction, and which seeks to coordinate national export licensing efforts to prevent their proliferation.
Under the pact, South Korea can build ballistic missiles with a range of up to 300 kilometers and a 500 kilogram maximum payload. But the MTCR only applies to high-velocity, free flight ballistic missiles, excluding the slower, surface-skimming cruise weapons.
The ministry neither confirmed nor denied the report. Informed sources said the military is worried the announcement of the cruise missile development would provoke its neighbors, including China, Japan and Russia.
The South Korean military has a cruise missile with a range of 500 kilometers, named ``Chonryong,'' which are being deployed to the guided missile headquarters in the central part of the country.
The cruise missile, dubbed a ``flying bomb,'' is a guided missile which uses a lifting wing and most often a jet propulsion system to allow sustained flight. The self-navigating cruise missile travels at supersonic or high subsonic speeds. It flies in a non-ballistic very low altitude trajectory to avoid radar detection.
Currently, a few nations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Israel, possess long-range cruise missiles with a range of more than 500 kilometers.
Pyongyang is believed to have more than 600 Scud and Rodong missiles that can cover South Korea and Japan. The Scuds, or Russian R-11 series missiles, have a range of 130-700 kilometers. The latest version of the Rodong missile, a further development of the Scud, has an estimated 2,000-kilometer range.
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