South Korea planning to buy cruise missiles

South Korea is planning to add air-launched cruise missiles capable of destroying high value targets in North Korea to its arsenal.

Seoul: South Korea is planning to add
air-launched cruise missiles capable of destroying high value
targets in North Korea to its arsenal, officials said on Wednesday.

The plan is awaiting parliamentary approval, a defence
ministry spokesman said, adding that the air force wanted to
buy some 170 missiles.

South Korea wants the air-to-surface stealth missiles as
a deterrent against provocation by North Korea, the Korea
Times reported.

"It can be fired from Seoul and hit any targets in
Pyongyang," a government source was quoted as saying.

The government has set aside some 388 billion won to
procure precision guided missiles that can be launched from
jets, the daily said.

The Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) from US
defence giant Lockheed Martin will vie with the Taurus missile
produced by Germany-based Taurus Systems GmbH, it said.

Seoul hopes to assess the two missiles over their
performance, price and the extent of technology transfer and
to select the winner no later than September next year, it
said.

JASSM, which has an operational range of 370 kilometres,
is cheaper but the US Congress has yet to authorise exports of
the weapon to Seoul, it said.

South Korea may push for the development of air-to-ground
cruise missiles if it cannot buy them at a reasonable price
and secure a guarantee of substantial technology transfer, it
said.

The South has developed various missiles to counter the
threat of North Korean ballistic missiles.

The North has about 600 Scud missiles capable of hitting
targets in South Korea, and possibly also of reaching Japanese
territory in some cases, according to South Korean military
data.

There are another 200 Rodong-1 missiles which could reach
Tokyo. In addition the North has three times test-launched
intercontinental Taepodong missiles.

PTI

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