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S. Korea to strengthen anti-missile system in Seoul metropolitan area

All News 11:10 July 19, 2016

SEOUL, July 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will beef up its anti-missile system in the Seoul metropolitan areas by 2018 to counter possible missile attacks from North Korea, its defense ministry said Tuesday.

The Ministry of National Defense is in the process of upgrading the PAC-2 Patriot anti-missile system at a military base in Gangwon Province into the more effective PAC-3 Patriot system which employs "hit-to-kill" technology that has no warhead, a ministry official said.

The PAC-3 can intercept incoming missiles at higher altitudes of 30-40 km and have superior intercept capabilities than the older systems. The PAC-2s generally operate at 15-20 km and destroy targets by using a proximity fuse warhead.

South Korea operates several Patriot batteries in and around the capital city.

"Once the upgrading process for the Gangwon-based missiles is completed in 2018, the PAC-3 missiles there will be relocated to a base near Seoul," he said. He added that the PAC-2 missiles currently deployed at a base in the Seoul region will be shipped to Gangwon.

The government plans to gradually replace all PAC-2 missiles in and around Seoul with PAC-3 Patriots by 2022. As for the non-metropolitan areas, the government does not have such an upgrade plan for PAC-2 missiles due to budget reasons, according to the ministry.

"Two PAC-3 missiles fired at the same target have a 90 percent intercept rate. If most of anti-missile systems are replaced with PAC-3 missiles, the ability to deal with ballistic missiles should be improved significantly," the official said.

Seoul has pushed to ramp up its interception system and purchase advanced missile interceptors such as the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system as it seeks to build its own independent missile defense system, called the Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD).

The KAMD, a multiple-interception program, is capable of shooting down incoming missiles at an altitude of 40-50 kilometers with multiple interceptors.

On July 8, South Korea and the U.S. announced a decision to deploy the THAAD missile defense system in Seongju, 296 kilometers southeast of Seoul, by 2017 to better cope with ever-growing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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