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S. Korea and UAE Sign $3.5B Missile System Contract

South Korea has been awarded a contract by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to supply mid-range surface-to-air missiles for $3.5 billion, the Asian nation’s largest arms export in history.

The agreement was signed during South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s two-day visit to the Gulf nation this week to strengthen defense ties and cooperation in the hydrogen sector.

As part of the contract, Hanwha Defense will build transporter erector launchers for the weapons, while Hanwha Systems will develop its multifunction phased array 3D radar. Another defense firm, LIG Nex1, will deliver the completed system — the Cheongung II — to the UAE Air Force.

“We will complete the contract to reinforce the UAE’s military prowess,” Hanwha Defense CEO Son Jae-il told UPI News Korea. “At the same time, we will help South Korea expand its defense exports.”

A Yonsei University military analyst told the news outlet that the deal is part of the UAE’s effort to modernize its military and that the Gulf nation is “proactively cooperating” with South Korea.

He added that defense exports to the Middle Eastern country are expected to continue.

The Cheongung II Missile

Regarded as the core element of South Korea’s missile defense program, the Cheongung II mid-range surface-to-air missile features “hit-to-kill” technology designed to intercept incoming missiles at altitudes below 40 kilometers (24.8 miles).

The missile has a detection range of 100 kilometers (160 miles) and features anti-electronic jamming technology.

The system is reported to have unparalleled operability and precision, with “omnidirectional coverage achieved by the employment of vertical launch.”

Additionally, the Cheongung II is equipped with high-performance side-thrust-engines and lethality enhancers, increasing the weapon’s destructive power against difficult to intercept targets such as ballistic missiles.

The missile system was first supplied to the South Korean military in 2020. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration revealed that the UAE is the first foreign nation to receive the system.

Additional Agreements

In addition to missile defense systems, South Korea and the UAE signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on defense technologies, including joint development of weapons systems.

The two governments have also agreed to expand energy ties, from traditional petroleum to nuclear and hydrogen energy. Moon said that the two countries could lead the hydrogen economy by leveraging the UAE’s green hydrogen and blue hydrogen market potential.

South Korea has also received UAE support for its campaign to host an arms expo in the southeastern city of Busan in 2030.

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