South Korea’s news agency Yonhap reported that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has said it plans to purchase South Korean-made mid-range surface-to-air missiles in a deal likely to reach $3.5 billion. An official at South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) called the UAE’s announcement “positive” but noted negotiations have yet to be finalized. The UAE’s Ministry of Defense tweeted Tuesday that it plans to acquire the missile, known as M-SAM. It did not elaborate further. LIG Nex1 participated in International Defence Exhibition held in UAE in 2021 and showed off the Korean weapon system including M-SAM and AT-1K Raybolt. LIG ??Nex1 is targeting Middle Eastern countries for export.
The M-SAM (Cheongung, Cheolmae-2) is a South Korean medium range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system that was developed by the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) with technical support from Almaz-Antey and Fakel, based on technology from the 9M96 missile used on S-350E and S-400 missile systems. Cheongung can intercept targets up to an altitude of 15 km (49,000 ft) at a range of 40 km (25 mi). It is to replace upgraded MIM-23 Hawk batteries in South Korea and be made available for export. Almaz-Antey continued with the program after prototypes were transferred and have created a distinctly Russian version called the Vityaz missile system. Localization and industrialization were done in South Korea enough to consider it an indigenous system.
A complete battery consists of four to six 8-cell transporter erector launchers (TELs), a passive electronically scanned array (PESA) X-band multi-function phased array 3D radar and a fire command vehicle. The radar operates in the X-band and rotates at a rate of 40 rpm, covering up to 80 degrees in elevation. It can detect targets within 100 km (62 mi) and track up to 40 simultaneously. The M-SAM block-2 was to be an upper tier interceptor designed to take down ballistic missiles, offering capabilities similar to that of the American Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile with a range of 150 km (93 mi) and ceiling of 200,000 ft (61 km). Performance levels were to be twice as superior to the Patriot and was expected to be based on the Russian S-400 technology.
The Republic of Korea Air Force revealed in mid-2015 that the M-SAM replacing the Hawk missile that had been in Korean service since 1964, which the United States military retired in 2002. The system can intercept up to six targets simultaneously, and the missiles have anti-electronic warfare capabilities to keep functioning despite jamming. On 28 April 2020, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced that deliveries of the Cheongung M-SAM Block-1 system to the ROKAF had been completed. In July 2021, South Korea retired its last MIM-23 Hawk system, phasing it out for the Cheongung Block-1. The M-SAM will be able to be launched from the Korean Vertical Launch System (K-VLS) aboard Daegu-class frigates in a naval role.