South Korea has successfully test-fired a domestically developed submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), becoming the first nation without nuclear weapons to develop the technology, according to media reports on Tuesday.
The tests, which were conducted by South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development, saw the nation stage successful SLBM underwater ejection tests from a Dosan Ahn Changho submarine, the country’s Yonhap News Agency claimed, citing military sources.
The military drill, which follows a previous successful test conducted from an underwater barge in August, is the first in a serious of exercises that will be held before the SLBM enters mass production within South Korea, ahead of its deployment.
The South Korean SLBM is believed to be a variant of the existing Hyunmoo-2B ballistic missile, which would be able to travel up to 500 kilometers, providing the nation with the ability to strike any target in North Korea from its submarines.
SLBMs have a tactical advantage over land-based ballistic missiles, as they are harder to detect in advance and can often be launched quickly, allowing swift surprise attacks to be conducted, bolstering South Korea’s deterrence capability amid ongoing threats from North Korea.
North Korea has previously demonstrated similar military tests of SLBMs, although these are believed to have been launched from submerged barges, rather than from submarines. The reclusive nation is thought to be in the process of producing a submarine that will be capable of holding SLBMs.
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The 3,000-ton Dosan Ahn Changho submarine, on which the missiles will be deployed, is the first homemade submersible vessel in the South Korean navy that is capable of firing SLBMs, alongside its previous ability of firing up to ten cruise missiles against land-based targets.
South Korea’s SLBM test makes it the first nation without nuclear weapons to develop the capability, with seven other countries globally having the technology, including China, France, India, North Korea, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
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