South Korean Navy's Aegis destroyers will get an upgraded missile launch system that will allow them to intercept North Korean ballistic missiles, a government source said Sunday.
The Navy is moving to install new vertical missile launch systems on its three King Sejong the Great class ships that will allow them to launch the longer range SM-3 and SM-6 ship-to-air missiles, said the military source who declined to be identified.
At present, the ships are only able to fire off the SM-2 missiles with a range of 150 kilometers, which is insufficient to intercept ballistic missiles. The SM-3 can fly up to 500 kilometers, while the SM-6 has a range of 400 km. The SM-3, in particular, has the ability to attack targets at a higher altitude than the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and can reach speeds of Mach 7.8.
"Once the vertical launch systems are installed, the Navy will have the infrastructure to utilize the longer-range systems," he said