South Korea launches its first missile-capable submarine
South Korea launched its first ever missile-capable attack submarine on 14 September, despite a recent diplomatic thaw with the nuclear-armed North.
The $700 million, 3,000t Dosan Ahn Chang-ho submarine is capable of firing both cruise and ballistic missiles, and it is the first of three planned diesel-electric boats to go into service in the next five years.
It represented a ‘leap forward in the country's’ defence industry, South Korean President Moon Jae-in told the audience at a launch ceremony at the Daewoo shipyard where it was designed and built.
Moon will head to Pyongyang in the week of 17 September for a third summit with the North's leader Kim Jong-un, as US-led efforts to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons have stalled.
Moon said: ‘We have set off on a grand journey toward the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. But peace is not given gratuitously. Peace through power is the unwavering security strategy of this government.’
The new submarine is fitted with six vertical-launch tubes and features indigenous sonar and combat management systems.
Aside from the new vessels, South Korea has an existing fleet of 18 smaller submarines, all built in cooperation with Germany.
According to the defence ministry, the North has 70 ageing submarines and submersibles, and Yonhap news agency reported that it has also developed a new 2,500t submarine fitted with a vertical-launch system.
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