South Korea has developed a cruise missile with a range of 1,500 kilometers, which is capable of striking all nuclear and military sites in North Korea, military sources here said Sunday.
The military and the state-funded Agency for Defense Development began the project to develop the surface-to-surface missile, called “Hyunmu-3C,” in 2008 and have succeed in its mass production, they said.
The operational deployment of the missile has already begun, according to local news reports. However, officials at the Ministry of National Defense refused to confirm it.
The missile with a 450-kilogram warhead measures 6 meters in length and 53-60 centimeters in diameter and weighs 1.5 tons. It can hit targets in all nuclear facilities and major missile bases in the communist state with high precision, experts said.
“With the range of 1,500 kilometers, the missile can practically attack all areas in the North. The missile, guided with the help of the global positioning system, can accurately hit the target with a margin of error of less than 2 meters,” said Shin In-kyun, a military expert who heads a civic group, called Korea Defence Network.
“We have now obtained the means to mount an attack when signs (of possible attacks from the North) are detected. The missile is not just for a war. It is meaningful in that we have secured deterrence capabilities.”
Experts say Hyunmu 3-C is comparable with the U.S.-made Tomahawk missile in its precision strike capability. Only South Korea, the U.S., Russia and Israel have developed cruise missiles with a range of 1,500 kilometers or more.
The military has thus far been known to have deployed Hyunmu-3As and Hynmu-3Bs on the ground, which have ranges of 500 kilometers and 1,000 kilometers, respectively. Hyunmu series missiles have been developed and tested by ADD and manufactured by LIG Nex1, a local defense firm.
Under the Missile Technology Control Regime, the South is allowed to build ballistic missiles with a range of up to 300 kilometers and a payload weighing 500 kilograms or less.
However, the regime does not restrict the development of a long-range cruise missile as long as its warhead does not weigh more than 500 kilograms. Thus, the military has been focusing on the development of the cruise missiles such as the Hyunmu series. The MTCR is a global weapons export control program.
The North is known to possess approximately 600 Scud B and C ballistic missiles with ranges of 300-500 kilometers. In addition, it has deployed some 200 units of 1,300-kilometer Rodong missiles. The Rodong missile puts all of South Korea’s territory within striking range.
By Song Sang-ho (firstname.lastname@example.org)