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Report: South Korea Wants BMD Capability for Guided Missile Destroyers

Republic of Korea navy destroyer Sejong the Great (DDG-991) underway on March 12, 2016. US Navy Photo

Republic of Korea navy destroyer Sejong the Great (DDG-991) underway on March 12, 2016. US Navy Photo

Seoul is considering adding Raytheon SM-3 missiles to its fleet of Aegis guided missile destroyers to give the ships a ballistic missile defense capability, according to local press reports.

An unidentified South Korean military official told the Yonhap news service last week that Washington and Seoul are set to start discussing for a missile purchase soon as an additional hedge against North Korean ballistic missiles.

The ROK Navy currently fields three Sejong the Great-class guided missile destroyers (DDG-991) with the same radar and launch system as the U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class BMD guided missile destroyers. The Koreans are planning three additional ships in the class.

However, it’s unclear how much additional software and computer hardware upgrades the Koreans will need to target the BMD weapons.

The U.S. State Department office that coordinates foreign military sales would not confirm any movement to green light a sale that would equip Republic of Korea Navy destroyers with SM-3s.
“We would refer you to the Republic of Korea to speak to their defense procurement plan,” a State Department spokesman told USNI News on Friday.

News of the SM-3s comes in tandem with a deployment of U.S. Army Terminal High Altitude Aerial Defense systems to mainland South Korea. Pentagon officials announced the deployment of the THAAD systems in February.

Since then, the mobile BMD system has drawn the ire of both China and North Korea.

“It is unmistakably a strategic misjudgment for Seoul to violate the core interests of its two strong neighbors, at the cost of its own security, and only in the interests of American hegemony,” read an editorial published in Chinese state media last week.

As to the SM-3s on Korean destroyers, adding the capability is a sound move, Eric Wertheim author of U.S. Naval Institute’s Combat Fleets of the World told USNI News on Friday
“In light of recent North Korean efforts to bolster offensive missile capabilities, it now makes a lot of sense for the South Koreans to consider the potential acquisition of defensive SM-3s to arm their Aegis warships and to boost ballistic missile defense capabilities,” he said.

A set of 60 SM-3 missiles could cost as much as $763 million, an unnamed South Korean military official told The Korea Herald newspaper in late May.

 

  • John B. Morgen

    The BMD should have been a part of the design for the Sejong the Great-class guided missile destroyers, and armed with SM-3 guided missiles from the very start. There should [not] be any questions coming from the United States State Department about the ROKN’s needs for having such a defense capabilities, since North Korea has been displaying aggressive attitude towards the South Korea.

  • disqus_zommBwspv9

    sounds like a great idea. Make it so.

  • Curtis Conway

    China/North Korea: “It is unmistakably a strategic misjudgment for Seoul to violate the core interests of its two strong neighbors, at the cost of its own security, and only in the interests of American hegemony…”

    …so China & North Korea get to threaten their neighbor while promoting/maintaining their own version of hegemony (?) While North Korea continues to THREATEN its neighbors (South Korea, Japan, and the United States), and continues provocative actions uncontrolled even by its Ward? The United States has always promoted ‘Freedom and Liberty of action’ by ourselves and our allies, where our cumulative adversaries want something else . . . that preserves THEIR ability to take full Advantage of the situation at their Leisure. NOT Freedom and Liberty for their neighbors, most specifically for South Korea!

    China is looking to establish a hegemony of its own in the Western Pacific, where it can destroy ocean fishery habitats at its leisure (island building on living rock coral reefs at the bottom end of the ocean food chain), and build military bases where they desire, even in other countries Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) with impunity. This isn’t even the “Pot Calling The Kettle Black”. This is exploitation pure and simple, while trying to draw off attention with Red Herring arguments.

    1. The United Sates as a policy should support South Korea’s desire to defend itself in the environment of an openly belligerent neighbor (North Korea) and its Ward who is trying to dominate the entire Western Pacific creating its own hegemony.
    2. The United Sates as a policy should assist the South Korean government with authorizations to modify their current Aegis destroyers with BMD capability, and build their new Aegis destroyers to that standard.
    3. The United Sates as a policy should licence the South Koreans to participate in the manufacture of SM-3 missiles in part if not in whole.
    4. The United Sates as a policy should support South Korea’s KAMD (Korea’s National Ballistic Missile Defense) Program to the extent possible, and encourage them to build an Aegis Ashore facility based upon a derivative of their own destroyer combat system, supported by missiles of their own manufacture in part or in whole.
    5.The United Sates as a policy should support a mutual defense dialog between South Korea, Japan, and the United States.

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      To know dictatorships is to know that hypocrisy is the core of everything they say & do

  • sferrin

    The more the merrier. I hope Japan is cool with them getting SM-3 Block IIs as well.

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      I imagine Japan will be of a “more the merrier” mindset aswell.

  • NavySubNuke

    This is good news for the people of South Korea and for America and Japan since there will be another buyer involved to help cover the cost of production line overhead. All parties involved will get to reap savings on the missiles they plan to buy and the people of South Korea will be better protected from IRBMs and MRBMs.

  • Donald Carey

    “two strong neighbors”? The strongest thing about North Korea is the stench from its corrupt leaders.
    (Militarily, N. Korea is more like Iraq under Saddam – strong on paper but with questionable quality, especially quality of training and junior/mid level leadership ability.)

    • Curtis Conway

      The North Korean Army is large and well fed with aid the West provides to feed the population, who never see that aid.

      • Donald Carey

        Saddam’s troops were well fed – I was referring to training and (especially), the willingness/ability of senior enlisted men and junior officers to operate effectively on their own initiative when cut off from their HQ.

        • Curtis Conway

          The secret of American armed forces success from the beginning. It has been a Spiritual activiy . . . until recently. Now it is chain-of-command government control instead of G-d’s Laws driving the interpretation of Legal Orders.