South Korea deploys Cheongung II surface-to-air missile

According to Yonhap Agency, a newly upgraded interceptor missile, often dubbed the Korean equivalent of the U.S.-made Patriot missile defense system, has been delivered to the South Korean Air Force, the arms procurement agency said on November 26.
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Launching of a Cheongung II air dfense missile (icture source: Defense Acquisition Program Administration)

Cheongung II is the upgraded version of the country's first indigenously developed medium-range surface-to-air guided missile Gheongung I. The Agency for Defense Development began the upgrade project in 2012, and the missile system has recorded a 100 percent accuracy rate at multiple test launches, officials said.

The KM-SAM, which is also known as the Cheolmae-2 or Cheongung II or M-SAM, is a medium range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system that was developed by the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) with technical support from Almaz-Antey and Fakel, based on technology from the 9M96 missile used on S-350E and S-400 missile systems.

A complete battery consists of up to six 8-cell transporter erector launchers (TELs), a passive electronically scanned array (PESA) X-band multi-function phased array 3D radar (based on the one from the Russian S-400), and a fire command vehicle. The radar operates in the X-band and rotates at a rate of 40 rpm, covering up to 80 degrees in elevation. It can detect targets within 100 km (62 mi) and track up to 40 simultaneously.

The KM-SAM is the middle-tier of South Korea's three-tier aerial and missile defense system. Though it was developed in Russia by the Almaz Design Bureau with assistance from Samsung Thales, LIG Nex1, and Doosan DST, localization and industrialization were done in South Korea enough to consider it an indigenous system. The Cheongung (Iron Hawk) can intercept targets up to an altitude of 15 km (49,000 ft) at a range of 40 km (25 mi). It is to replace upgraded MIM-23 Hawk batteries in South Korea and be made available for export. Almaz-Antey continued with the program after prototypes were transferred and have created a distinctly Russian version called the Vityaz missile system.

The Republic of Korea Air Force revealed in mid-2015 that the KM-SAM would soon enter mass production and begin delivery to the Air Force that September, replacing the Hawk missile that had been in Korean service since 1964, which the United States military retired in 2002. The system can intercept up to six targets simultaneously, and the missiles have anti-electronic warfare capabilities to keep functioning despite jamming. The system passed the military's operational requirement verification test in July 2015, and began deployment in early 2016 near the maritime border with North Korea in the Yellow Sea.

In April 2017, South Korean military officials revealed that a low-tier missile defense system based on the Cheongung was in the final phase of development. Modifying the standard SAM with hit-to-kill technology enables it to intercept incoming ballistic missiles at altitudes of around 20 km (66,000 ft).

The Cheongung II will be able to be launched from the Korean Vertical Launch System (K-VLS) aboard Daegu-class frigates in a naval role.

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Launching of a Cheongung II air dfense missile (icture source: Defense Acquisition Program Administration)


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