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Seoul readies K-SAAM for production and deployment

South Korea has conducted further tests of its shipborne Haegung (‘Sea Bow') surface-to-air missile (SAM) system ahead of mass production and anticipated deployment from 2022.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said the missile was successfully test fired from a Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN) Daegu (FFX-II)-class guided-missile frigate at facilities off South Chungcheong Province on 8 and 10 December.

A DAPA official cited in a press release from the agency said the validation tests will enable local industry to start mass producing the missile so that it can be delivered to the RoKN “as soon as possible”. He added that the missile will also be marketed to export customers.

DAPA said the weapon, which is also known as the Korean Surface-to-Air Anti-Missile (K-SAAM), will be integrated onto a range of RoKN platforms including FFX-II and future FFX-III frigates, LST-II tank landing ships, LPX-II amphibious assault ships, and Nampo-class minelayer ships.

The K-SAAM was developed by South Korean defence company LIG Nex1 in collaboration with DAPA subsidiary the Agency for Defense Development. LIG Nex1 is also expected to lead production of the system. In service with the RoKN, the K-SAAM will replace the Raytheon Rolling Airframe Missile, which has been in service since the early 2000s.

The missile forms a part of South Korea's effort to develop an enhanced multilayered air-defence system that would provide protection against any attack from North Korea. It also reflects South Korea's continuing import substitution strategy.

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