Surface Forces: South Korean Tomahawk


May 16, 2017: South Korea has developed a new version of their Haeseong 2 LACM (Land Attack Cruise Missile) that can be launched from VLS (Vertical Launch System) cells as well as inclined launchers above the deck. The VLS version has completed development and will enter service in 2018 in the VLS equipped KDX ships of the South Korean navy. The new version of LACM has several other improvements, including being able to receive commands after launch and change course. LACM has a range of 500 kilometers weighs about a ton and goes supersonic (over 1,000 kilometers an hour) part of the way to its target. South Korea has basically built another version of the American Tomahawk cruise missile.

The three KDX III destroyers was preceded by the 3,900 ton KDX-I in 1998, and the 5,500 ton KDX-II in 2002. The KDX I did not have VLS and carried the earlier Haeseong 2. Because of the decision to go with VLS only three KDX I ships were built. The 9,900 ton KDX-IIIs are approximately the same size as the U.S. Navy's Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers. Actually, the KDX III is a little larger than the Burkes and have 128 VLS cells for missiles, compared to 96 on the Burkes. The VLS tubes usually carry 80 SM-2 anti-aircraft missiles, 32 Haesong LACM, and 16 rocket launched anti-submarine torpedoes. There are also six anti-submarine torpedo tubes. There is also a 5 inch (127mm) gun, two 30mm auto-cannon, and a multiple cell launcher of Rolling Airframe Missiles for anti-missile defense. The KDX can also carry two helicopters. The KDX-III is the first Korean ship large enough to carry the AEGIS system and was always expected to get the SM-3 (anti-missile missile) upgrade (which some Japanese Aegis ships have). Built in South Korea the KDX IIIs cost about $930 million each. South Korea likes the Aegis radar because it can spot any missile launch in North Korea and that is seen as sufficient as South Korea has other systems for knocking down North Korean rockets and missiles.


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