South Korea successfully launches homegrown SLBM: report
SEOUL, Sept 7, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - South Korea has test-fired a homegrown
submarine-launched ballistic missile, a report said Tuesday, as it seeks to
build up its forces to defend itself from the nuclear-armed North.
Pyongyang has long sought to develop submarine-launched ballistic missile
(SLBM) technology, and showed off four such devices at a military parade
overseen by leader Kim Jong Un in January, with state media KCNA calling them
"the world's most powerful weapon".
But while North Korea has released pictures of underwater launches, most
recently in 2019, analysts believe that was from a fixed platform or
submersible barge, rather than a submarine.
South Korea's Agency for Defense Development last week carried out
underwater ejection tests of the SLBM from a new, locally developed 3,000-
tonne class submarine fitted with six vertical launching tubes, Yonhap
reported, citing unnamed military sources.
The SLBM is believed to be a variant of the country's Hyunmoo-2B ballistic
missile, with a range of around 500 kilometres (310 miles), and will be mass
produced for deployment after another round of tests, it added.
South Korea joins only a handful of countries to have successfully
developed an SLBM.
Seoul on Monday allocated nearly 1.5 trillion won ($1.3 billion) for
defence technology research and development next year in a budget request
submitted to parliament.
If approved, it will represent a 76 percent jump in the research budget of
the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, which will be used to
"actively develop cutting-edge, future technologies", according to a press
Pyongyang is also looking to further enhance its submarine forces.
In January, Kim told a congress of his ruling Workers' Party that the North
had completed plans for a nuclear-powered submarine.
Any such vessel is likely to be years away from going into service, but
analysts say it could be a strategic game-changer, enabling Pyongyang to
launch a surprise strike underwater even if its land-based forces had been
Kim inspected a newly built submarine in 2019, when pictures showed him
standing next to a gigantic vessel accompanied by officials.
State media said it would soon be deployed for operations, without giving
details of its capabilities.