SEOUL, March 12 South Korea will sign a deal to
upgrade its Patriot missile system by the end of this year, the
defence procurement agency said on Wednesday, with the contract
valued at around 1.5 trillion won ($1.41 billion).
The upgrade, which is set to benefit U.S. defence firms
Raytheon Co and Lockheed Martin Corp, is part of
South Korea's plan to increase its anti-ballistic capabilities
against unpredictable North Korea, which has carried out two
long-range missile tests and a nuclear weapons test in the past
"Once the improvement in Patriot capabilities is completed,
it will be possible to directly hit the warhead of a ballistic
missile to prevent damage to the ground," Baek Youn-hyeong, a
spokesman for the Defence Acquisition Program Administration
(DAPA), told reporters.
South Korea wants to upgrade its Patriot missile launch
system to PAC-3 Configuration 3 as well as buy PAC-3 missiles,
with delivery expected to start in 2016, another DAPA official
told Reuters. He declined to be named as he was not authorised
to speak to the media.
A spokesperson for Raytheon, which makes the Patriot launch
system, said the company had provided South Korea with the
necessary information. A spokesperson for Lockheed Martin, which
manufactures the PAC-3 missiles, declined to comment.
DAPA officials declined say how much the arms upgrade would
cost or give further details about the purchase, but the defence
ministry had set aside around 1.5 trillion Korean won for the
upgrade in an earlier arms procurement plan.
Hwang Sung-hwan, head of DAPA's guided weapons programmes,
said it would cost South Korea between 3.4 trillion and 3.5
trillion won ($3.2-3.3 billion) to buy a whole, brand-new system
instead of upgrading existing equipment.
South Korea has since 2008 imported its Patriot missiles
second-hand from Germany. It currently has PAC-2 missiles and
the PAC-3 Configuration 2 launch system and last week, the
defence ministry said it would spend some 70 trillion won over
the next four years to bolster its defences against North Korea