To counter weapons fired by North Korea, the South wants to build an interceptor system that is superior in capabilities to the Iron Dome system built by Israel.
The Iron Dome is designed to detect, identify and destroy incoming threats, such as short-range missiles, artillery shells and unmanned aerial vehicles.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry recently green-lighted a $2.56 billion project to build its own Iron Dome-like system, way more than what Israel spent on its development. Israel had invested $204 million on its four-year Iron Dome program. The system has been in service with its military since 2011, and it has also been purchased by the United States.
When prodded, Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) spokesperson Col. Suh Yong-won explained that the cost is higher because the South Korean system requires more advanced technologies in order to defend against long-range artillery from the North.
"The Iron Dome responds to rockets fired by militant groups, such as Hamas and irregular forces sporadically. Some parts of the system will bear similarities, but what we are going to build is designed to intercept long-range artillery pieces by North Korea, which requires a higher level of technologies given the current security situation," Suh told a regular briefing of the defense ministry.
"We will try to minimize the cost when mass producing the system," he added.
Work on Seoul’s Iron Dome project is expected to begin next year. The air defense system is expected to be put into force around the mid-2020s.
Pyongyang reportedly deploys around 1,000 artillery pieces along the Military Demarcation Line separating the two Koreas, including 240-millimeter multiple rocket launchers.