S. Korea to push to advance L-SAM, M-SAM missile defense systems


South Korea has approved plans to develop homegrown missile systems designed to intercept targets at higher altitudes compared with existing ones, the state arms procurement agency said Wednesday, a move that could bolster its air defense capabilities against North Korean threats, according to Yonhap.

The Defense Project Promotion Committee approved a 1.06 trillion-won (US$777 million) development plan for the long-range surface-to-air-missile (L-SAM) II system and a 2.8 trillion-won (US$2.1 billion) development plan for the midrange surface-to-air-missile (M-SAM) Block-III system, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

Under the plan, the envisioned L-SAM system will be able to intercept targets at a maximum altitude of 100 kilometers or higher from the current 60 kilometers, while the upgraded M-SAM system will double the maximum altitude for interception to 50 kilometers or above, according to DAPA.

A DAPA official said the Block-III version of the M-SAM system will be capable of defending simultaneous missile attacks with a defense range that is four times bigger than the current system.

The approved development plans for the L-SAM II and M-SAM Block-III systems will run through 2032 and 2034, respectively.

The L-SAM and M-SAM systems are designed to play a key role in South Korea's multilayered missile shield, called the Korea Air and Missile Defense.