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    A man watches a TV news program showing photos published in North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper of North Korea's Pukguksong-2 missile launch and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017

    Apocalypse Sooner: South Korea Speeds Up Preparation of Ballistic Arsenal

    © AP Photo/ Ahn Young-joon
    Asia & Pacific
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    South Korea is completing the development of its low-tier M-SAM missile defense system, which is due to be put into service within the next few years, according to Yonhap News Agency.

    Yonhap News Agency quoted a South Korean military source as saying that Seoul has wrapped up "all testing and evaluations" of its medium-range surface-to-air missile (M-SAM), which is slated to enter service between 2018 and 2019.

    A basic element of the Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system, the M-SAM is designed to intercept ballistic missiles at altitudes of about 20 kilometers. Its deployment comes amid "North Korea's growing missile threat," according to Yonhap.

    Another element of the KAMD is the L-SAM, a long-range surface-to-air missile, which is capable of destroying enemy missiles at altitudes of 40-60 kilometers.

    "It is fair to say that we only have an administrative procedure to complete the development of the M-SAM," the source said.

    The system was developed by the state-run Agency for Defense Development, together with LIG Nex1, a South Korean aerospace manufacturer and defense company.

    Yonhap said that South Korean authorities "initially planned to deploy the M-SAM in the early 2020s but moved up the deployment a year due to Pyongyang's escalating missile threats."

    On Sunday, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said that North Korea had attempted to launch an unidentified missile earlier that day but appears to have failed.

    US Pacific Command, for their part, issued a statement saying that they detected what they believed was a North Korean missile launch, which occurred at 11:21 am Hawaii time on April 15.

    The military said the missile "blew up almost immediately," adding that its type is yet to be identified.

    Earlier this month, Yonhap reported that South Korea will increase spending on missile defense systems by 143 million dollars in 2017 due to the North Korean threat.

    The spending will cover Taurus ground-to-air wide-range missiles, an early-warning radar, the modernization of ground-to-ground missiles, the modernization of KF-16 fighter jets, an update of the Patriot Missile Defense System and the development of spy satellites and drones.

    Separately, the deployment of elements of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system have begun in South Korea in early March in  response to North Korea's ballistic missile tests and despite China's strong opposition to the move.

    Tensions between the two Koreas are rising after Pyongyang  conducted two nuclear tests and launched more than 20 missiles in 2016.

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    Tags:
    service, enemy, missile, development, threat, L-SAM, M-SAM, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), South Korea
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