After Japan, South Korea chooses the American SM-6 to counter the hypersonic threat

While the eyes of the world remain on the war in Ukraine, tensions in the Pacific theater remain very high, and the major nations involved are redoubling their investment and innovation in an attempt to gain the upper hand over their potential adversaries. Thus, in recent months, the two Koreas engaged in a long-range tussle over their long-range striking capabilities successively demonstrating the effectiveness of their new ballistic and cruise missiles, while China has also implemented new capabilities in this area, including hypersonic and semi-ballistic trajectory weapons. The latter now worry the Japanese and South Korean staffs, knowing that traditional anti-ballistic weapons such as the SM-3 of the American Aegis system, and the THAAD, are struggling to provide an effective response to counter these threats.

While the two Asian dragons undertook to develop comparable weapon systems in the medium term, so as to balance the reality of the threat vis-à-vis Pyongyang as well as Beijing, and even Moscow, they also turned to the only missile likely to provide an effective defense against weapons of this type, the American missile RIM-174 Standard ERAM, also called SM-6. Unlike the SM-3 dedicated to high altitude anti-ballistic interception, the SM-6 does not employ a kinetic impactor, but intercepts the threat with its own precision and maneuverability. This allows the missile to be as effective against maneuvering aerial targets, such as combat aircraft, as against ballistic weapons operating at very high speed but at relatively low altitudes, such as hypersonic missiles or missiles with a semi-ballistic trajectory, those -the same thing that poses problems for SM-3s and THAADs. The SM-6 is so versatile that it can even be used against surface or ground targets if required.

The South Korean Sejong the Great destroyers of the KDX-III Batch I program are among the most powerful surface combatants on the planet today

It is therefore not surprising that Seoul announced that its future KDX-III Batch II heavy destroyers would be equipped with this missile, in order to perfect South Korea's defensive panoply against its northern neighbor which has shown surprising capabilities. to develop this type of ballistic and hypersonic weapons in recent years. The SM-6 will therefore take place alongside the anti-aircraft SM-2 and the anti-ballistic SM-3 within the 48 vertical Mk-41 silos which will equip the new destroyers, offering a complete defensive panoply to the buildings, and this of as much as they will also carry, in addition to a 127 mm gun, 16 K-VLS vertical silos of South Korean design accommodating K-SAAM anti-aircraft and anti-missile missiles (range 20 km), anti-submarine missiles Hong Sang Eo (Red Shark) mariners and TSLM cruise missiles, as well as 24 new K-VLS II silos to accommodate the new Cheongung 3 anti-aircraft missiles (range 150 km), as well as the new supersonic anti-ship missile in development course.


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