South Korea tests upgraded version of KTSSM-I ballistic missile - M5 Dergi
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South Korea tests upgraded version of KTSSM-I ballistic missile

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According to Yonhap on January 12, 2024, South Korea successfully conducted a test launch of an upgraded version of the domestically developed Korean Tactical Surface to Surface Missile-I.

The KTSSM-I was initially developed to address the need for precision strikes against North Korean artillery concealed in underground caves, following the 2010 artillery shelling incident on South Korea’s northwestern border island of Yeonpyeong. It is known for its capability to penetrate the ground by several meters to reach underground targets.

The recent test launch of the KTSSM-I has generated interest in potential exports, with nations such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates reportedly expressing interest in acquiring the export version known as CTM-290. Additionally, the CTM-290 missile has emerged as a potential competitor in the international arms market, given its similarities with the ATACMS tactical ballistic missile and compatibility with the K239 Chunmoo Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS).

Unveiled to the public during the defense exhibition ADEX 2017 in South Korea, the KTSSM-I, or Korea Tactical Surface-to-Surface Missile, is currently operational in fixed land canisters and is equipped with a heavier warhead. South Korea is actively advancing its missile technology with the development of KTSSM-II and KTSSM-III, while Poland is preparing to introduce the CTM-290 into its defense arsenal.

While specific performance details of the KTSSM-II remain undisclosed, it is expected to offer enhanced capabilities compared to the CTM-290. The original KTSSM design was intended for launch from fixed, concealed launchers, with the Batch-I variant expected to enter service soon. A vehicle-launched variant known as Batch-II is reportedly in development. Recent live firing tests have demonstrated that the Batch-I KTSSM has an actual range closer to 200 kilometers, surpassing initial estimates of 180 kilometers. Furthermore, the KTSSM-II, an extended-range version equipped with a more capable penetrating warhead, is currently under development.

South Korea’s K239 Chunmoo MLRS, which is also used by Poland, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, can serve as a launching platform for the KTSSM-I, ensuring its broader applicability on the international stage.

The KTSSM missile system, developed by the South Korean Agency for Defense Development in collaboration with defense company Hanwha, enables the launch of up to four missiles nearly simultaneously from a static launch platform, incorporates a GPS-guided system, and has a maximum firing range of 120 kilometers.

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