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South Korea test launches ballistic missile from submerged submarine

SLBM-capable Dosan Ahn Chang-ho
ROK Navy photo of KSS III submarine Dosan Ahn Chang-ho

The Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) has concluded a successful test of a locally-developed submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from a brand new submarine, South Korea’s Yonhap reported citing sources.

With the successful, first-ever test for the country, South Korea is joining an exclusive club of countries with such a capability.

Other SLBM operators include the United States, Russia, Britain, France, India, China and South Korea’s first neighbor, North Korea.

What makes South Korea’s capability unique is the fact that it is the first country in the world to equip a conventionally-powered submarine with the SLBM capability.

It has been reported, but not yet confirmed, that North Korea completed its own conventionally-powered Sinpo-C submarine with the capability to launch SLBMs.

South Korea completed the test with its first SLBM-capable submarine Dosan Ahn Chang-ho, which entered ROKN service just last month.

Dosan Ahn is the first of up to nine KSS-III diesel-electric submarines the country plans to build. The boats will measure 83.3 meters in length and carry six vertical launch tubes.

The submarine launched the SLBM from a submerged position after the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) previously completed underwater ejection tests from an underwater barge last month, the Yonhap report further said.

Citing sources, the report said the SLBM could be a variant of the country’s Hyunmoo-2B ballistic missile, fitted with conventional warheads and featuring a flight range of around 500 kilometers.