South Korea defence prime Hanwha Corporation has unveiled plans to develop an electromagnetic launch system (EMLS) for surface-to-air missiles (SAM) at the 2018 edition of the DX Korea land forces exhibition in Goyang City.
According to company officials, the EMLS programme is an internally funded effort that commenced in 2016. It aims to mature the necessary techniques to provide an alternative to conventional hot launch processes, in which the missile combusts its own fuel to propel itself out of its canister and achieve the necessary velocity for aerodynamic flight.
Myungguen Song, a research engineer at Hanwha Defense Systems’ Vehicle and Launcher Research and Development Center, told Jane’s on 16 September that hot launching has several disadvantages. For example, additional volume is required within the launcher for exhaust plume control and discharge, and the canister itself must be able to isolate the heat generated by the missile’s motor during launch without igniting other missiles in adjacent canisters.
“More importantly, a missile can expend as much as 60% of its fuel during a hot launch situation to achieve enough velocity for aerodynamic flight, limiting its overall performance and range,” Song said.
More recent SAM systems – such as the indigenous Cheongung (Iron Hawk) KM-SAM system developed by LIG Nex1 and operated by the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) – employ a cold launch system that uses compressed gas to eject a missile out of its canister before its rocket motor ignites.
“The advantage of the cold launch system is safety – a malfunctioning missile can be ejected to reduce the possibility of damage or destruction of the launcher, although the missile still has to expend fuel to attain flight velocity,” he explained. “The gas system is also not reusable.”
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