SEOUL --- South Korea is considering leasing a reconnaissance satellite possibly from Israel to independently obtain information on North Korea's military activities, military officials said Tuesday.
South Korea has heavily relied on reconnaissance satellites operated by the United States when it comes to core military information involving the North's nuclear and missile-related moves, according to the Ministry of National Defense.
"The military is expected to have its own surveillance satellites as early as 2023 that will allow Seoul to closely monitor military activities in North Korea," said a ministry official.
"It is years behind the defense ministry's original schedule to deploy five surveillance satellites between 2021 and 2022 as part of the country's "kill chain" strike system to deal with missile threats from the North," according to the official.
Faced with increasing nuclear and missile threats by the North, the government is looking to lease a reconnaissance satellite from Israel or other foreign countries, the official said.
In addition, the military plans to purchase another 90 KEPD-350K air-launched cruise missiles from Germany's Taurus Systems GmbH. The initial shipment of 170 KEPD-350K is currently being transported to South Korea, with the remainder set to be shipped in 2017.
The Taurus missile can be mounted on the South Korean Air Force's main F-15K fighters and can be used to hit the capital city of Pyongyong while the planes are flying safely over Daejeon, 164 kilometers south of Seoul.
If the Taurus missile, with a range of over 500 km, are added to the Air Force's inventory, South Korea will be the first operator of fighter jets in Asia equipped with this advanced system.
Besides satellites and missiles, Seoul as part of the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system plans to operate a total of four early-warning radars by around 2020 to counter the North's submarine-launched ballistic missiles. KAMD is designed to detect and destroy incoming missiles and other aerial threats, the military said.
Pyongyang has conducted five nuclear tests in the past decade and launched a series of missiles, including an intermediate-range ballistic missile which is believed to be capable of reaching U.S. territories in the Pacific like Guam.