Pacific News Minute: South Korea Tests New Missiles as Arms Race Accelerates in North East Asia

Sep 21, 2017

Hyunmoo 3c launch
Credit Wikimedia Commons

We’ve heard a lot these past few months about North Korea’s new and more powerful missiles, but less about new missiles in development in South Korea. As you might suspect, they are also more powerful. We have more on the Korean Arms race from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Earlier this month, when North Korea fired a second medium range missile over Japan, South Korea fired ballistic missiles of its own, just a few minutes later. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the quick response showed combat readiness. However, the Yonhap News Agency reported that while one of the South Korean missiles accurately struck its target in the ocean, the other broke up shortly after liftoff and crashed into the sea.

South Korea uses the name Hyunmoo for a series of missiles, all developed indigenously but constrained by agreements with the United States. A key consideration has been to limit their range so they could not threaten targets in China or Russia. Developed in the mid-1980s, the Hyunmoo 1 can carry a thousand pounds or so a little over a hundred miles. The Hyunmoo 2 is more accurate and flies farther.

The latest version, the 2c, goes 500 miles, enough to hit any part of North Korea. After the North Korean nuclear test earlier this month, the Trump Administration lifted all restrictions on payloads. And the South Korean Ministry of Defense promptly announced plans for what it called a Frankenmissile – a Hyunmoo 2 with a two thousand pound warhead able to destroy underground command centers.

Also this month, South Korea conducted  tests of a cruise missile manufactured by a German company launched from an F-15, the Taurus missile has a range of about 300 miles and stealth capabilities to evade radar.