South Korea plans to add two more ground-based anti-missile early warning radars and build three Aegis-equipped destroyers in the next five years in an effort to better detect and intercept incoming missiles from North Korea, the defense ministry said Wednesday.
The plan was one of the key projects that the ministry unveiled in its five-year defense blueprint for 2020-2024 amid heightened concerns about North Korea's missile capabilities in the wake of a series of test-firings of what Pyongyang claimed were new weapons.
The five-year plan calls for spending 290.5 trillion won ($239.88 billion), a 7.1 percent on-year hike on average over the next five years. Of the total, 103.8 trillion won is on improving defense capabilities and the remaining 186.7 trillion won on force management, the ministry noted.
The plan came at a time when North Korea has apparently been focusing on the modernization of its conventional weapons by test-firing short-range ballistic missiles, including its version of the Iskander, in recent weeks, amid stalled denuclearization negotiations with the United States.
Under the plan, the ministry seeks to earmark 34.1 trillion won for projects aimed at "securing strategic deterrent capabilities" against threats from nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
In order to advance its independent, low-tier missile shield called the Korea Air and Missile Defense system, the military plans to expand its detection coverage of ballistic missiles by securing two early warning radars and building three more Aegis-equipped destroyers with an advanced radar system.
It will also seek to enhance its multi-layered interception capabilities by deploying the improved version of interceptors -- Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC)-3 and Cheolmae-II missiles, while wrapping up the development of L-SAM, a long-range surface-to-air missile.
With a goal to boost its "strategic target strike" capabilities against nuclear and missile facilities, the ministry vowed to secure more precision-guided missiles to be launched from the ground, the sea, submarines and fighter jets. (end of excerpt)
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