Naval Weapons

South Korea develops shipborne land-attack missile variant

21 April 2017

South Korean frigates will have the capability of striking land targets with the recently developed vertically launched (VL) version of the Tactical Surface Launch Missile (TSLM), the country's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced in an 18 April statement.

South Korea announced on 18 April that it had completed the development of a vertically launched version of the shipborne TSLM. (DAPA)South Korea announced on 18 April that it had completed the development of a vertically launched version of the shipborne TSLM. (DAPA)

Developed by South Korea's Agency for Defense Development over a seven-year period, this short-range land-attack cruise missile is a variant of the slant-launched (SL) TSLM, which itself is based on the Haeseong (SSM-700K) anti-ship cruise missile.

The newly developed VL variant is meant to equip the Republic of Korea Navy's (RoKN's) FFX-II and FFX-III-class frigates, said the DAPA.

Mass production of this new missile will commence next year, with deployment expected in 2019.

According to the DAPA, the missile is armed with a warhead carrying hundreds of submunitions. These combine a shaped charge and fragmentation jacket, the former is used to penetrate armoured vehicles and the latter to damage or destroy softer targets. Once released, the submunitions can devastate an area the size of two US football fields, the agency added.

"It is now possible [for South Korea] to strike from sea not only the enemy's major bases on the ground but also core facilities, including those related to ballistic missile launches," a DAPA official was quoted in the statement as saying.

The new VL and current SL missiles will serve as key maritime equipment for the South Korean military's 'Kill Chain' pre-emptive strike system against North Korean provocations, he added.

According to the DAPA, the RoKN's FFX-I-class frigates have been operating the SL variant of the TSLM since 2016, development of which was completed in 2014.

Both TSLM versions have been designed to strike tactical targets at close proximity to the coast.

South Korea also recently announced that it is in the final phase of developing its Cheongung ('Celestial/Firmament') Korean medium-range surface-to-air missile (KM-SAM or M-SAM) to better counter North Korea's growing missile threats, according to a Yonhap news agency report.

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