South Korea and the United States fired eight ballistic missiles into the East Sea on Monday in response to North Korea’s missile launches the previous day. The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Republic of Korea Army launched 7x MGM-140 ATACMS surface-to-surface missiles from M270A1 MLRS and U.S. Army M270A1 also launched 1x MGM-140 ATACMS during this exercises from an eastern coastal region in Gangwon Province starting at 4:45 a.m. for around 10 minutes. On Sunday, the North Korea shot eight short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) from four different locations into the East Sea following a South Korea-U.S. naval exercise last week involving an American aircraft carrier.
The South Korea-U.S. combined firing of the ground-to-ground missiles demonstrated the capability and posture to launch immediate precision strikes on the origins of provocations and their command and support forces. South Korea and the United States military strongly condemns the North’s series of ballistic missile provocations and seriously urges it to immediately stop acts that raise military tensions on the peninsula and add to security concerns. Shortly after the North’s launch of three ballistic missiles, including an apparent intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the South and the U.S. conducted combined missile launches in their first such joint move since 2017.
The North’s weekend salvo is including the KN-23 missile modeled after Russia’s Iskander ballistic missile. Like the Iskander-M, it flies in a quasi-ballistic trajectory, flattening out below an altitude of about 50 km (160,000 ft) where the atmosphere is dense enough so the missile’s fins can change course along its flight path (pull-up maneuver) designed to avoid interception.. It is believed to have a range of some 450 km with a 500 kg warhead, putting all of South Korea within range, though it is possible to extend range out to 690 km with a reduced payload; warhead can be conventional, likely unitary or submunition, or nuclear.
The MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) is a surface-to-surface missile (SSM) manufactured by the U.S. defense company Lockheed Martin. It has a range of up to 190 miles (310 km), with solid propellant, and is 13 feet (4.0 m) high and 24 inches (610 mm) in diameter. The ATACMS can be fired from multiple rocket launchers, including the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), and M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). In 2002, the South Korean Army purchased 111 ATACMS Block I and 110 ATACMS Block IA missiles, which were deployed in 2004. An affiliated company of the Hanwha Group of Korea produces munitions for the missile systems under license from Lockheed Martin.