The Korean military plans to develop five
reconnaissance satellites that can spy on North Korea
and deploy them by the early 2020s, according to the
Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
It also plans to develop a long-range, surface-to-air
L-SAM missile based on its indigenous technology to
shield against North Korea’s guided missiles, said
the administration’s spokesperson Baek Yoon-hyung in
a briefing Wednesday.
This is an indication that Seoul is resisting
Washington’s mounting pressure for Korea to adopt its
Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (Thaad)
antiballistic missile system, which is designed to
intercept missiles at an altitude of 40 to 150
kilometers (24 to 93 miles).
Baek said a defense acquisition project meeting
chaired by Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin
was convened to decide the Korean military’s arms
development and deployment projects.
As a part of its comprehensive defense reform plan
for 2014-2030, Baek said, the Korean military will
produce five indigenous multi-purpose satellites to
increase monitoring of the region and enhance its
capability of collecting imagery of the Korean
Peninsula. Once in orbit, these advanced satellites
would be able to collect imagery of North Korea
without being affected by weather.
Baek added that the satellites will be able to
“distinguish cars and even people.”
Over 1 trillion won ($982 million) is earmarked for
the project, which will be launched next year under
the supervision of the Agency for Defense
The L-SAM missiles will be aimed at enhancing South
Korea’s capability of intercepting ballistic missiles
during their descending phase at an altitude of 40
kilometers or higher.
They will be developed starting from next year and be
deployed in the early 2020s.
The Pentagon has been pressuring Korea to join the
Thaad missile system, which Seoul believes will lead
to tensions with China and Russia. The Thaad system
can intercept missiles at an altitude of 40-150 km.
Seoul wants to upgrade the Korea Air and Missile
Defense, which was launched in 2006 and uses South
Korean missile defense radar with early warning data
from U.S. satellites. The Defense Ministry is in the
process of upgrading its lower-capability Patriot
Advanced Capability-2 (PAC-2) to PAC-3s.
“North Korea’s missile threat has increased recently
and we are reviewing various plans in order to defend
against this,” said an official of DAPA. “It can be
seen that we are officially launching an interception
system that is indigenously built.”
The L-SAM would establish a multi-layered missile
defense system, according to DAPA. If the L-SAM fails
to shoot down missiles at a higher altitude, the
PAC-3 and medium-range surface-to-air M-SAM missiles
would be able to intercept them as they descend