South Korea tested its new Long-range Surface-to-Air Missile (L-SAM) interceptor, which almost doubles the U.S. Patriot’s intercept altitude, on May 30.
The test was conducted at the Anheung Comprehensive Test Center, located in Taean, with Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-seop in attendance.
“The L-SAM missile intercepted the target missile flying from the target point of engagement. The L-SAM's interceptor missile successfully hit and neutralized the target missile at the planned target altitude,” South Korea’s Ministry of Defense said in an official press release.
The new missile interceptor is an important part of South Korea's missile and air defense system. It also includes the MIM-104 Patriot and KM-SAM medium-range surface-to-air missile systems.
L-SAM uses a vertical launch system. The system is primarily aimed at destroying ballistic missiles. The maximum intercept altitude is 100km. In comparison, the PAC-3 and PAC-3 MSE interceptors can shoot down ballistic missiles at altitudes up to 40km and 60km respectively.
The battery will consist of a multi-function radar station, a command and control centre, a combat control room and four wheeled launchers. The L-SAM is expected to come in two versions: as an aircraft-killing vehicle and as a ballistic missile interceptor, as per local media.
Since the first successful ballistic missile interception test in November of last year, several tests have been conducted. In this test, the technical maturity of the ballistic missile interception performance was confirmed before entering the test evaluation.
“Based on the success of this test, the military will be able to build a ‘Korean missile defense system’ more quickly in the future,” the ministry said.
In the future, L-SAM will undergo test evaluation, complete development in 2024, start mass production in 2025, and deploy to the military in the mid-to-late 2020s according to the electrification plan.
“The development of L-SAM II and M-SAM Block-III as well as research and development of L-SAM will be initiated at an early stage to quickly build a vertical and horizontal multi-layered missile defense system capable of responding to any North Korean missile threat,” said Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-seop.
Director Park Jong-seung of KIST said, “In the meantime, several tests have been conducted, ranging from a test to confirm the basic performance of a guided missile to an interception test of a ballistic missile, through which the L-SAM performance was confirmed step by step. It became a place to comprehensively verify the core capabilities of L-SAM, from the target detection and tracking capabilities of the L-SAM multi-function radar to actual interception through precision guidance.”