The South Korea’s Defense Ministry has submitted its budget request for next year and one of the items on the shopping list is an indigenously Counter rocket, artillery, and mortar (C-RAM) system. The C-RAM is capable of protecting critical national infrastructure from North Korean long-range artillery. North Korea currently deploys about 1,000 artillery systems along the Military Demarcation Line, including six battalions of 170 mm self-propelled guns with a 54 km range, as well as 10 battalions of 240 mm rocket launchers with a 60 km range. The Defense Ministry said it has requested a defense budget of $16 million for 2022.
C-RAM is a set of systems used to detect and/or destroy incoming rockets, artillery, and mortar rounds in the air before they hit their ground targets, or simply provide early warning. The intercept capability of C-RAM is effectively a land version of weapons such as the Phalanx CIWS radar-controlled rapid-fire gun for close-in protection of vessels from missiles; either weapon system also uses a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) camera to allow a defender to visually identify these target threats before engaging the targets. One major difference between the land- and sea-based variants is the choice of ammunition.
The South Korea’s Defense Project Promotion Committee decided that the project, which is slated to begin in 2022 and be completed by 2035, has been provisionally budgeted at KRW2.89 trillion (USD2.56 billion), according to DAPA. South Korea’s plan to develop its own C-RAM system had been mentioned in the Ministry of National Defense’s (MND’s) 2021–2025 Mid-Term Defense Plan, which was published in August 2020. The ministry said at the time that the indigenous C-RAM would be used to defend the Seoul Metropolitan Area, as well as key government and military facilities and infrastructure.
LIG Nex1 showcased its advanced close-in weapons system, or CIWS, specialized to the South Korea in the International Maritime Defense Industry Exhibition 2021 (MADEX 2021). Poongsan, South Korea’s largest ammunition manufacturer, already produces K164/K165 missile-piercing discarding-sabot rounds that can be used by the GAU-8/A Avenger, which South Korea is planning to produce domestically through a technology transfer from US manufacturer General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems. The 30x173mm MPDS cartridge has a discarding nylon sleeve (sabot) with a 21 mm sub-calibre tungsten penetrator. The nylon sabot provides a seal between penetrator and barrel and reduces wear.