South Korean President Moon Jae-in oversaw the test firing of a new land-launched ballistic missile with an estimated range of 800 kilometers at 10:30 am Friday morning, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae (Blue House) announced in a statement on June 23.
“President Moon visited the test site at the Agency for Defense Development this morning, where he observed the test-firing of the ballistic missile and inspected the readiness posture against possible missile threats from North Korea,” Blue House spokesperson Park Soo-hyun said in a briefing.
The missile test is seen as a strong warning to North Korea.
The launch was conducted by the Agency for Defense Development and occurred approximately 200 kilometers southwest of Seoul at the Anheung test site, near Taean on the country’s western coastline in South Chungcheong Province. According to a video released of the test firing, the ballistic missile was launched from a transporter erector launcher.
The Blue House did not reveal additional test details such as the distance the missile flew. It is also unclear whether the missile hit its target. “The successful test-firing of the Hyunmoo-2 indicates that (South Korea) has secured a maximum firing range based on the New Missile Guideline,” the spokesperson noted.
Park also quoted a statement by the South Korean president: “As the North Korean missile provocations have continued and advance, our national people and I as a president have been wondering about the missile capabilities of our military. But I feel assured after being briefed about the military capabilities of our military and check in person that the people can be relieved.”
The new ballistic missile, appears to be an improved variant of the Hyunmoo-2 (현무, which literally means “Guardian of the Northern Sky”) ballistic missile, likely to be designated the Hyunmoo 2c. The ballistic missile is slated to become operational by the end of the year. It was the fourth test of the new missile with two more tests scheduled in 2017.
As I reported previously, the last successful test occurred in early April with the South Korean defense minister in attendance. The new missile will “be a key component in our kill chain to counter possible North Korean missile attacks,”Park said on June 23 and is part of South Korea’s deterrence strategy, known as Korea Massive Punishment & Retaliation (KMPR). As I explained elsewhere:
In the event of a North Korean nuclear attack (or even signs of preparations for one), KMPR specifically calls for surgical strikes against key leadership figures of the communist regime and military infrastructure with the missiles part of a so-called kill chain consisting of integrated information, surveillance, and strike systems, as well as the Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system.
South Korea has been working on the new ballistic missile variant ever since the Seoul and Washington concluded an agreement to extend the range of South Korean missiles by up to 800 kilometers (about 500 miles) and carry warheads heavier than a pre-2012 limit of 500kg (1,102 pounds).