South Korea announced plans to test-launch a ballistic missile on Friday to bolster its deterrence against growing nuclear and missile threats from the North.
The state-run Agency for Defense Development will launch the Hyunmoo-5 from the Anheung test site in Taean, 150 kilometers (93 miles) southwest of Seoul, Yonhap News Agency revealed, citing sources.
Unveiled in October
Seoul released the missile’s first video during Armed Forces Day in October, claiming it could carry the world’s heaviest warhead.
The missile is said to be able to carry a warhead of up to nine tons at a speed of up to Mach 10.
A senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Malcolm Davis told South China Morning Post that the missile could strike as far as 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) away if armed with a lighter warhead.
Ryu Yongwook from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore estimated the missile’s range to be 300-800 kilometers (186-497 miles), in the short to medium-range category.
“The main purpose of South Korea’s development of its cruise and ballistic missiles is to deter North Korea’s aggression rather than targeting China,” Yongwook explained to the outlet.
The missile could destroy an underground target 100 meters (328 feet) deep, The Dong-a Ilbo wrote, adding that it enables Seoul to take out a North’s nuclear missile site in the event of conflict.
The missile is one of the three axes of the South’s deterrence strategy against the North, including kill chain pre-emptive strike and the air and missile defense system, according to Yonhap.
The missile is part of the South’s “Massive Punishment and Retaliation” plan to incapacitate the North’s leadership should war erupt.