South Korea’s LIG Nex1 has completed deliveries of medium range surface to air missiles to the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF), with the company continuing production of an improved design.

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced the completion of the delivery for Cheongung (also known as KM-SAM or M-SAM) Block 1 systems on 28 April.

The type had entered service with the RoKAF in 2015. DAPA gives the range of the KM-SAM as 40 km (25 miles), and will replace South Korea’s MIM-23 HAWK missiles. The 4.6-metre long missiles, which are cold-launched vertically from launch tubes on wheeled Transporter, Erector and Launchers (TEL), have a top speed of Mach 4.5 and an altitude of between 15 and 20 km.

A typical KM-SAM battery consists of four TELs with eight missile launch tubes each, a multifunction radar, and Command and Control (C2) centre. The system is fully mobile system, with all of its elements mounted onto 8×8 wheeled trucks.

The KM-SAM is said to have part of its origins in Russian missile and radar technology, with Russia’s Almaz-Antey providing radar technology associated with the S-400 long-range surface to air missile to South Korea as far back as 1992. KM-SAM development began in 1998.

LIG Nex1 is now concentrating its efforts on the production of the Cheongung Block 2, a hit-to-kill (HTK) missile interceptor designed to counter North Korea’s ballistic missile arsenal. The Block 2 is able to engage incoming ballistic missiles at altitudes of up to 20 km.

The Block 2 was declared fit for operations in 2017, marking the completion of its development phase led by South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development alongside local companies such as LIG Nex1.

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