South Korea is set to develop new military reconnaissance satellites this year and the first five units will be deployed by 2022, the country’s military officials announced Monday. The latest developments are part of broader efforts by the government to boost the country’s defense capabilities to better deal with growing security threats from North Korea.
The new project is part of the South Korean defense ministry’s policy goals for this year, which focus on forming “a creative defense system” with a greater use of advanced information technology, Yonhap News Agency reported. The country’s procurement agency is expected to sign a deal with a private company in October, Yonhap reported, adding that the project could cost $928.2 million, and will be led by the country's Agency for Defense Development.
“The spy satellite, which is capable of securing imagery intelligence on the Korean Peninsula and the surrounding regions, is the key detection asset for the country's preemptive strike apparatus of the Kill Chain and the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system,” an anonymous military officer told Yonhap.
According to another official, the new satellites will be powerful enough to detect objects as small as cars, and will be loaded with a high-resolution synthetic aperture radar or an electrooptic-infrared (EO-IR) surveillance device, Yonhap reported.
“A total of five units will be put into service by 2022 starting 2020,” the official said. “The satellites will allow us to detect North Korea's transporter erector launchers within some two to three hours of their deployment.”
In addition to the spy satellites, Seoul is also planning to begin a project to develop long-range, surface-to-air missiles (L-SAM) to compete with North Korea’s guided missiles. The missiles will reportedly be capable of intercepting other missiles at an altitude of about 25 miles or more.
In an effort to nullify North Korean threats, the South also plans to develop various defense equipment, including high-powered microwave weapons, a laser beam-based electromagnetic pulse and an unmanned battleship, according to Yonhap.