South Korea Threatens Attacks on Northern Missile Launch Sites: Fires Guided Missiles in Show of Force

The South Korean Military on March 24 launched multiple guided ballistic and cruise missiles in a show of force aimed at North Korea, after the launch of a northern intercontinental range ballistic missile earlier in the day which was its first such launch in almost five years. The southern launches were intended to demonstrate the "capability and readiness" to precisely strike North Korean missile launch sites, command and support facilities, and other targets across the country, according to the South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff. This comes as South Korea has invested heavily in bolstering its missile arsenal over the past five years under the outgoing administration of President Moon Jae In, which pressed for rapprochement with Pyongyang while simultaneously strongly supporting military modernisation. The two Koreas are both considered among the world leaders in the field of ballistic missile development, although southern missiles are all restricted to short ranges while the north fields missiles capable of engaging targets of all ranges with the United States being the primary target of its main programs. North Korea has notably gained a strong lead in the development of hypersonic missiles, with South Korea expected to invest heavily in obtaining a similar capability.

Both Koreas’ prime short range missiles, the northern KN-23 and its derivatives and the southern Hyunmoo-2 and its derivatives, notably closely resemble the Russian Iskander series recently used extensively and with considerable success in the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict, with Russian technology transfers to both countries long speculated. Both Koreas have notable histories of Russian arms acquisitions. North Korea relies particularly heavily on ballistic missiles to compensate for its lack of a modern air force, due largely to a UN arms embargo in place since 2006 while combat aircraft remain the key outstanding area for which its own defence sector cannot provide. Ballistic missiles are seen as a means to asymmetrically counter enemy air power by destroying enemy airfields among other key targets in a war’s opening stages, and complement significant North Korean investments in developing more advanced long range air defence capabilities. South Korean ballistic missiles could well similarly allow it to strike launchers for northern strategic missiles quickly, although with North Korean ballistic missiles all mounted on mobile transporter erector launchers which can quickly redeploy this is considered a much more difficult task than engaging immobile targets such as airfields. North Korean long range missiles have since 2017 been considered capable of delivering nuclear strikes across the Untied States mainland, according to American intelligence.  



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