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South Korea to invest $2.6B in 'Iron Dome' interceptor

South Korea to invest $2.6B in 'Iron Dome' interceptor
North Korea’s long-range artillery fire is a threat to the South that is being addressed with a new missile interceptor program, according to a South Korean press report Monday. File Photo by KCNA/EPA-efe

June 28 (UPI) -- South Korea plans to invest close to $2.6 billion in the research and development of a missile interceptor similar to Israel's Iron Dome.

The military's Defense Acquisition Program Administration said Monday a Korean version of the Iron Dome will be developed in line with goals to protect the South against long-range North Korean artillery fire. The plan is to deploy the system by 2035, Newsis reported Monday.

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South Korea's long-range artillery interceptors will be designed to protect state-owned and military facilities from the threat of enemy artillery. DAPA said Monday a system could be deployed before 2035 through the "development of advanced core technologies," the report said.

"Through this project, it is expected that the ability to respond to the threat of long-range artillery from the enemy will be bolstered, as well as securing domestic technology and creating jobs in the country," DAPA said.

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South Korea's military also said that it is upgrading its F-35A stealth fighters. The cost of upgrades is estimated at $327 million and will be completed by 2030, according to Newsis.

"Through this project, the F-35A fighter's encryption and security functions, data processing capabilities, and threat response capabilities will be strengthened," DAPA said. "We expect mission performance capabilities such as combined operation and armed operation capabilities will be improved."

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Under President Moon Jae-in Seoul has pursued friendlier ties with North Korea but the military also has deployed new weapons to counter North Korean threats. Some of the new weapons could be experiencing issues, however.

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The 3,000-ton South Korean submarine Dosan Ahn Chang-ho, launched in 2018 in a ceremony where Moon was in attendance, has not been deployed with the Navy because of "equipment problems," the Dong-A Ilbo reported Monday.

A DAPA official told the South Korean newspaper that the commissioning is delayed but there were no problems with core technologies, including the sub's vertical launch system.

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, the builder, was hacked in 2016. North Korean hackers are believed to be behind the breach, according to the Dong-A.

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