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US approves SM-6 sale to South Korea

An SM-6 Block I missile arcs skywards following launch from a US Navy DDG-51 guided-missile destroyer. South Korea plans to integrate the missile onto its second batch of KDX-III guided-missile destroyers. (US Navy)

The US State Department has approved the possible sale of SM-6 Block I air-defence missiles to South Korea, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on 14 November.

DSCA said Congress was informed of the possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) – estimated to cost USD650 million – earlier the same day.

The deal features up to 38 SM-6 Block I missiles, Mk 21 vertical-launch system canisters, and a range of associated equipment and services. Principal contractor is Raytheon.

β€œThe proposed sale will improve the Republic of Korea's [RoK's] capability to meet current and future threats while further enhancing interoperability with the United States and other allies,” the DSCA said.

South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) approved the procurement of SM-6 Block I missiles in April 2022. DAPA said at the time the purchase had been budgeted KRW760 billion (USD585 million), with funding sourced through 2023–31.

South Korea intends to fit the SM-6 Block I missiles onto the second batch of RoK Navy's KDX-III guided-missile destroyers. These vessels will be deployed primarily for air-defence operations, a priority for Seoul given North Korea's growing missile capability.

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