Procurement: November 9, 2003

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South Korea has bought 110 ATACMS 1A (MGM-140B) missiles from the United States. These missiles are fired from the MLRS rocket launcher, with one 610mm ATACMS (in a 1.8 ton container), replacing a container of six standard size (228mm) rockets. The 1A has a range of 300 kilometers, and can hit the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, and the Yongbyon nuclear weapons complex 90 kilometers north of the capital. The ATACMS carries a number of different warheads, mainly high explosive or cluster bombs. Many of the military sites between the South Korean side of the DMZ (where the ATACMS will be stationed) and 300 kilometers north, are underground. But the ATACMS 1A uses GPS guidance and can accurately hit many of the exposed targets (bridges, railroads, communications and electric facilities) with deadly accuracy. However, the most common warhead consists of 275 anti-personnel and anti-vehicle bomblets. When ATACMS is fitted with a 500 pound high explosive warhead, it is referred to as the MGN-140E. Until 2001, the United States refused to sell South Korea long range missiles, and discouraged them seeking such weapons from other suppliers. This was done to avoid an arms race between the two Koreas. But with the North Koreans developing long range (up to 6,000 kilometers) missiles in the 1990s, the U.S. relented and dropped this policy. South Korea will begin receiving its ATACMS in 2004. These missiles cost about $800,000 each.

 


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