According to the South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) decided Wednesday more than 200 units of the Korean Tactical Surface to Surface Missile (KTSSM) designed to destroy underground artillery bases in North Korea. The KTSSM was developed with the intention of quickly neutralizing North Korean long-range artillery. Dubbed the “artillery killer,” Hanwha Corporation designed the missile in partnership with the Agency for Defense Development (ADD). Under the 450 billion won (US$406.14 million) project, South Korea successfully developed the new weapon with its own technology, and an additional 320 million won was earmarked for its mass production. Four missiles can be launched almost simultaneously from a fixed launch pad and they can travel 120 km (75 mi); the launcher and missiles as a set have a combined cost of $1.9 million.
The KTSSM are GPS-guided to hit targets within two meters and have a shaped thermal warhead that can penetrate bunkers and hardened, dug-in targets several meters underground or 1.5 m (4.9 ft) of concrete. While it resembles the American MGM-140 ATACMS missile, the KTSSM is cheaper and more accurate with a shorter range, though still adequate to perform the counterbattery role. There are two versions of the missile: KTSSM-1 for attacking M1978/M1989 Koksan 170 mm howitzers and M1985/M1991 240 mm unguided multiple rocket launchers (MRLs); and KTSSM-2, a self-propelled system tasked with engaging KN-09 300 mm MRLs and KN-02 short-range ballistic missiles, having a Block I version employing a thermal penetrating warhead and a Block II version with a unitary high-explosive warhead.
Development lasted from 2014-2017 at a cost of USD$418 million, and it was successfully test-launched in October 2017. In March 2018, the South Korean Army announced it would create a new artillery brigade composed of KTSSMs and K239 Chunmoo multiple launch rocket systems with the aim of destroying North Korea’s hardened long-range artillery sites near the Korean Demilitarized Zone, to be inaugurated in October of that year. North Korea revealed its own novel type of surface-to-surface missile in August 2019, and has test-launched them three times. Fielding was planned for 2019, but initially postponed to 2023 because the United States had yet to approve the purchase of important components. In 2019, it was reported that the KTSSM would be deployed in 2021.