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Surface-to-air Cheongung missile self-explods in mid-air after abnormal launch

By Lim Chang-won Posted : March 18, 2019, 15:15 Updated : March 18, 2019, 15:15

[Courtesy of Air Force]

SEOUL -- A surface-to-air guided Cheongung missile self-exploded in mid-air after being launched abnormally while it was under maintenance at a base east of Seoul, according to air force authorities. No casualties or property damage was reported.

The missile exploded on Monday morning in the vicinity of the base in Chuncheon, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of Seoul, the air force said Monday, adding it was designed to destroy itself for safety in the event of an unnormal launch.

Cheongung (KM-SAM), also know as Cheolmae-2, is a South Korean medium-range surface-to-air missile system developed with Russian technology. It can intercept targets up to an altitude of 15 km. South Korea has strived to develop an independent three-tier aerial and missile defense system, based mainly on Russian technology.

The Cheolmae 4-H L-SAM, based on the Russian S-400 technology, is an upper tier interceptor to offer capabilities similar to that of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, an advanced missile shield deployed by American troops in South Korea. Because U.S companies are reluctant to transfer technology, South Korean developers have forged strategic partnerships with Russian firms.

Policymakers have decided to deploy the first batch of seven batteries by 2023 for the Cheongung system which was compared to American Patriot systems. A complete battery consists of up to six transporter erector launchers (TELs), an X-band 3D radar, and a fire command vehicle.

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