S. Korean Supersonic Cruise Missile Joins East Asian Arms Race

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Seoul- (PanOrient News) South Korea is developing a supersonic cruise missile that can be used to attack aircraft carriers, Aegis ships and up-to-date destroyers, A Seoul daily reported.

"Think tanks like the Agency for Defense Development have been developing a supersonic anti-ship cruise missile for some years now. They're expected to complete development in three to four years at the earliest," The Chosun Ilbo quoted a South Korean government source as saying.

The missile under development is modeled after Russia's powerful Yakhont missile, which is 8.9 m long and weighs 3 tons, but will be smaller, and it will be able to reach speeds of up to Mach 2.5, with a range of 250-300 km, according to the source.

Currently, the Navy has homegrown Haesung ship-to-ship missiles with a range of 150 km and the American-made Harpoon anti-ship missiles with the same range. But they can be intercepted by short-range anti-aircraft missiles or machine guns, as they fly slower than the speed of sound.

Observer say that supersonic missiles are harder to intercept as they fly fast a few meters above the surface. Russia has been developing various models to respond to American aircraft carriers. China and Japan already have such missiles or are developing them.

The missile South Korea is developing will also be capable of hitting targets on the ground, including North Korean coastal artillery batteries and long-range artillery, a military source told the daily, adding "We're developing a supersonic cruise missile to cope with the threat from the navies of neighboring big powers rather than from North Korea."

Photo: The Russian Yakhont missile.

PanOrient News

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