11 July 2024

The South Korean military has decided to purchase the SM-6 missile interceptors from the U.S. and load them onto the King Jeongjo the Great Aegis destroyer by 2031. The deal will cost 770 billion won.

So far, South Korea’s Aegis destroyers could only detect and trace North Korean ballistic missiles, but intercepting them was deemed difficult. Once the SM-6 with the maximum interception altitude of 35km are introduced, they will be able to defend against the incoming missiles in conjunction with the Patriot missiles deployed on land.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration has decided to develop and mass-produce ship-to-air missiles domestically and deploy them on next-generation Korean destroyers.

Choi Kyung-ho from South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration said that the SM-6 missiles can intercept at diverse altitudes.

“Our capabilities to defend against the enemy’s cruise and ballistic missiles are expected to improve. The military will also deploy more F-35A stealth fighters that can secretly strike North Korean nuclear and missile facilities when deemed necessary,” said Choi Kyung-ho.

The South Korean government will invest 3.75 trillion won by 2028 to strategize about 20 stealth aircraft. The number of Air Force-owned F-35As is to be expanded from 40 to 60 to beef up deterrence capabilities against North Korean threats. The military has decided to develop domestic unmanned reconnaissance aircraft to be either deployed in destroyers or on northwestern islands of Korea.

The government held a Defense Acquisition Program Promotion Committee meeting on Monday to set a 7.3 trillion won budget for bolstering the three-axis defense system, in an attempt to stay ahead of North Korea’s new weapons system.