South Korea conducts underwater ballistic missile ejection test from KSS-III submarine


The Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN) has successfully conducted underwater ejection tests of an indigenously developed submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from its newly commissioned KSS-III diesel-electric submarine, according to local reports.

The authoritative Yonhap News Agency reported on 7 September that the SLBM tests were carried out on the previous week by the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) from KSS-III-class submarine ROKS Dosan An Chang-ho following similar tests conducted in recent months using an underwater barge.

Dosan An Chang-ho was only recently commissioned into service on 13 August and is the lead Batch 1 boat of the planned fleet of nine 3,000 tonne KSS-III-class SSKs that will enter the RoKN fleet by 2029, with construction of the boats carried out in three tranches. Each tranche will comprise three boats, with subsequent submarines incorporating more advanced technologies.

The boat measures 83.5 m-long and has a displacement of 3,705 tonnes when submerged. It is equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell-based air-independent propulsion (AIP) system for extended endurance, and has a maximum stated speed of 20 kt and cruising range of 10,000 nautical miles.

Each Batch 1 series KSS-III submarine feature a six-cell vertical launch system (VLS) that can deploy a variety of missiles.

Military sources told Yonhap News that production of the new SLBM, reportedly designated Hyunmoo 4-4, are expected to commence following further testing. The missile is believed to be derived from the Hyunmoo-2B ballistic missile which has a 500 km-range.

The latest development comes after revelations that South Korea is in advanced stages of developing a large surface-to-surface missile (SSM) with a 3,000 kg-class warhead and a range of between 350 and 400 km.

The unnamed SSM, which is said to be “as powerful as a tactical nuclear weapon” is in the final phase of development and could be deployed by 2026 following several planned test launches. The range profile of the weapon will also enable Seoul to target any area of North Korea if it is deployed from the border between the divided states, which technically remain at war since the 1953 armistice.

The development of such a large and powerful missile had only recently been allowed when the US-South Korean ballistic missile guidelines of 1979 was terminated after a bilateral summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Joe Biden in Washington on 21 May.

by Jr Ng