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South Korea to bolster naval ballistic missile, unmanned systems interception capabilities

A model of the South Korea-developed CIWS-II on display at MADEX 2023. (Janes/Ridzwan Rahmat)

South Korea's defence procurement agency has announced programmes to bolster its navy's ability to intercept ballistic missiles and unmanned vehicles.

These include a programme to improve the country's indigenous close-in weapon system (CIWS) project undertaken in consideration of recent changes in warfare techniques, said the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) in its announcement on 26 April.

South Korea's indigenously conceived CIWS is known as the ‘CIWS-II' and it is being developed by LIGNex1 under a contract awarded in 2021.

It is based on a seven-barrelled Gatling gun system incorporated with a tracking active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, a four-faced AESA search radar, and an electro-optical tracker. The weapon can fire about 4,200 rounds per minute.

At the 161st meeting of the country's Defense Program Promotion Committee that was held on the same day of the announcement, changes to the CIWS-II programme's quantity and localisation plans were decided on, DAPA said without giving further details.

These are in addition to enhancements that would allow the weapon to better intercept emerging threats such as unmanned systems, DAPA disclosed. The estimated cost for the programme is KRW895.7 billion (USD649 million), said the agency.

LIGNex1 had not responded to Janes request for more detail on the changes that will be effected for the programme at the time of publication.

Besides the CIWS-II, the South Korean government will also pursue the procurement of sea-based ballistic missile interceptors, which will be incorporated onboard the Republic of Korea Navy's (RoKN's) second batch of KDX-III destroyers.

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