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South Korea Equipped for Precision Strikes Against North Korean Provocations

A means of retaliatory punishment to strike the starting point of the provocation in case of North Korea’s provocation
For the precise strike on nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and the forward echelon of North Korea
Cluster bomb unit equipped with a warhead containing hundreds of submunitions
In case of radio interference, strikes the targets by avoiding the obstacles

함정서 단 1발로 北 도발원점 응징…최대 250㎞ 날아가 축구장 면적 2배 초토화[이현호 기자의 밀리터리!톡]
The image of the test launch of the Haeryong sea-based ballistic missile. Photo provided by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration

ROKS Jeongjo the Great (DDG-995), classified as a national strategic asset, is the fourth Aegis destroyer of the Republic of Korea Navy. It is the first ship commissioned through the KDX-III Batch-II (Gwanggaeto-III Batch-II) project. It was launched on July 28, 2022, and is scheduled to be commissioned in November 2024.

ROKS Jeongjo, the Great-class destroyer, is a new type of Aegis destroyer (KDDX) with a length of approximately 557ft and a light displacement of approximately 9040 US tons. It has a much more advanced Aegis defense system and powerful offensive capabilities, including weapon systems not found on the already commissioned three Sejong the Great-class Aegis ships (Gwanggaeto-Ⅲ Batch-I).

One of the significant features is a sea-based ballistic missile capable of striking enemy military facilities from the sea. The Navy plans to equip it with missiles with superior performance, including the Haeryong tactical sea-based ballistic missile (range 150-200 kilometers or 93-124 miles), which has already been commissioned on the Daegu-class (2800-ton class) frigate.

This project will strengthen the sea-based kill chain (preemptive strike system) against North Korea by investing approximately $514 million from this year to 2036. The key is to domestically develop sea-based ballistic missiles for shipboard use that can precisely strike the enemy’s main targets under the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) supervision. This weapon system will be mounted on a Korean Aegis destroyer (KDDX) as soon as the development is completed.

The warhead is a fragmentation warhead effective for suppressing ground targets

Sea-based ballistic missiles have only been known to be successfully developed by Israel and India so far. They are much faster than cruise missiles usually operated from naval surface ships, making interception more difficult, and their destructive power is also superior, which is expected to help deter North Korean nuclear and missile provocations.

A military source said, “Even the Haeryong, which is a cluster bomb unit, can obliterate an area twice the size of a soccer field. It is possible for early riposte on the potential threats from the North Korean military at sea in case of emergency and to precisely strike the command of the forward echelon of North Korea if we retain and mount the newly developed ship-mounted sea-based ballistic missile that is currently being developed domestically.”

Tactical sea-based missiles are missiles that attack ground targets from warships, and their significance in the offensive capabilities possessed by naval ships is enormous. Our military has developed and operates a tactical sea-based missile called Haeryong. Based on the existing Haeseong ship-to-ship missile, it reaches a range of 250 kilometers (155 miles). This missile, known as Haeseong 2, uses a turbojet engine like Haeseong.

This missile uses an active radar seeker and flies by satellite and inertial navigation. An improved GPS jamming response system has also been applied. It is known to be able to maneuver pop-ups after final target confirmation at the terminal stage. The warhead has been replaced with a wide-area attack fragmentation warhead, effectively suppressing ground targets such as ship-to-ship missile batteries.

The main targets are the urgent strikes of tactical targets such as the ship-to-ship missiles of the North Korean Navy and the landing obstruction forces. The Haeryong launch is possible from the Korean vertical launch system and the inclined launcher of the Haeseong ship-to-ship missile. The Ministry of National Defense announced the commissioning of the sea-based missile Haeryong on January 24, 2017.

함정서 단 1발로 北 도발원점 응징…최대 250㎞ 날아가 축구장 면적 2배 초토화[이현호 기자의 밀리터리!톡]
The image of the Haeryong tactical sea-based missile being launched from a ship. Photo= Namuwiki Capture

The Haeryong, which improved the Haeseong ship-to-air missile into a sea-based cruise missile, is one of the primary means of retaliatory punishment to strike the starting point of the provocation in case North Korea provokes local areas such as Baengnyeong Island and Yeonpyeong Island.

Tactical sea-based missiles can be used effectively to remove not only the North Korean coast-battery-fort owned Silkworm missiles, which have been a long-standing problem, but also the newly appearing ground-to-ship Geumseong-3 missiles (North Korean version of Ural missile) launch vehicles.

Of course, in case of emergency, South Korea can deter the use of surface-to-ship missiles of North Korea, such as Geumseong-3 missiles by the Air Force’s air-to-ground guided weapons (e.g., KGGB, SDB) or the Marine Corps ground firepower (multiple rocket Chunmoo, Spike missile) deployed in Five West Sea Islands. But it is very effective as a response measure as a weapon system that can immediately retaliate when the naval surface ship is threatened.

In addition, it is cited as a means to retaliate punishment with a single shot against not only the fortified coastal artillery positions separate from the North Korean ground-to-ship missile battery but also the field command posts deep in the inland through several waypoints.

Since September 2017, it has been sequentially mounted on the rear inclined launcher of the Daegu class, the next-class ship, and the navy frigate (2500-ton class), including the Incheon class. It is a method of adding 8 shots to the anti-ship missile part in the rear of the Incheon class or mounting 8 shots on the rear inclined launcher of the Daegu class.

함정서 단 1발로 北 도발원점 응징…최대 250㎞ 날아가 축구장 면적 2배 초토화[이현호 기자의 밀리터리!톡]
Tactical sea-based missile Haeryong operation concept diagram. Source: Agency for Defense Development

In a similar situation, the biggest obstacle to performing a landing operation on the Korean Peninsula is the North Korean ground forces deployed on the coast and inland areas. Suppose coastal and inland areas such as coastal artillery, ground-to-ship missiles, radars, self-propelled guns, and command posts are not suppressed. In that case, it will be difficult for Marine Corps landing operations and naval ships to approach the coast.

Therefore, a weapon system is needed that can strike through naval ships outside the range of North Korean ground-to-ship missiles, helping the safe landing of the Marine Corps. The Haeryong sea-based missile makes this possible.

The Haeseong anti-ship missile has extended its flight distance and enhanced its warhead. It is launched from a ship and flies up to about 250 kilometers (155 miles) to strike enemy radars, ground-to-ship missile bases precisely, ground force command posts, etc. The warhead is characterized by containing hundreds of submunitions. It is known that when the submunitions explode, they can obliterate an area twice the size of a soccer field.
In particular, the Haeryong missile has a system that allows users to operate flexibly during operations, and it is an advantage that it is designed to automatically generate mission plans and enable operators to modify them rather than manually inputting target locations or flight paths into separate storage devices.

The operational radius and capabilities of the Navy have expanded dramatically

It also added the ability to avoid obstacles quickly. It also has a satellite navigation system that corrects its position even in enemy radio interference. In addition, it is rated as having improved destructive power compared to the Haeseong ship-to-air missile, which was the basis for development by enhancing the performance of the processor, operating system, auxiliary engine, and other components.

Above all, the Haeryong missile is cited as a means of dramatically expanding the operational radius and capabilities of the Korean Navy, which had limitations in autonomous strikes targeting the North Korean coast and adjacent inland areas. Considering that it is a weapon system capable of responding to threats from the ground, the Haeryong missile is expected to play a crucial role in the ground attack operations of the Korean Navy.

A navy official said, “It can be deployed not only for landing operations but also for attacking command posts or supply facilities in inland areas from the sea,” and “It can also be used in operations to retaliate against ground-to-ship missiles fired from launchers or bases that could not be destroyed in advance by North Korean Silkworm ground-to-ship missiles and new ground-to-ship missiles.”

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