By Jung Sung-ki
The state-funded Agency for Defense Development (ADD) announced Monday it has completed the development of a precision-guided light torpedo that can travel about 20 kilometers in the air before dropping into waters to track and destroy a target.
The Navy's KDX-II/III destroyers will be equipped with anti-submarine missile, or Hongsangeo (Red Shark) torpedo beginning next year as part of efforts to beef up the country's naval defense against North Korea, ADD officials said.
``The successful development of the Hongsangeo-guided missile system has laid the groundwork for developing the South Korean Navy's anti-submarine operational capability to a world-class level,'' Bae Yeon-sook, program manager of anti-submarine missile at ADD, told reporters.
The development of a ship-based vertical launch system will also help facilitate the operations of other naval guided missiles systems in the future, Bae said.
The 5.7-meter Hongsangeo rocket, similar to the U.S.-made Vertical Launch Anti-Submarine Rocket, or VLA, comes after nine years of joint development with LIG Nex1, a leading South Korean missile developer, he said, adding about $80 million was spent to develop the rocket,
The ADD and LIG Nex1 already developed the conventional Cheongsangeo light torpedo and Baeksangeo heavy torpedo.
North Korea operates far more submarines than South Korea, with about 70.
The two countries remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce. North Korea has recently threatened an armed conflict around the two countries' western sea border where skirmishes turned deadly in 1999 and 2002.