SEOUL — South Korea has revealed efforts to increase the firing range of its K239 Chunmoo multiple rocket launcher, from 85 kilometers (53 miles) to more than 200 kilometers (124 miles).

The Agency for Defense Development announced its research and development project at a seminar last month, a key part of which is the application of ducted rocket propulsion technology. The agency is now looking at adding an air inlet to the K239′s rockets to enable longer combustion time.

Ducted rockets absorb external air and combine it with a gas generator for combustion, thus producing thrust and a longer range. (The MBDA-made Meteor is one example of a rocket that uses ducted technology.)

Combustion efficiency is further improved with the addition of a valve that controls the flow of gas for maneuvering.

The longer range is meant to serve as a countermeasure to North Korea’s multiple rocket launchers, which can target bases 150-200 kilometers away.

South Korea’s missile force has more than 600 Hyunmoo-2 short-range ballistic missiles with a range of 300-800 kilometers; 400 Hyunmoo-3 cruise missiles with a range of 500-1,500 kilometers; and the newly developed Hyunmoo 4-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile. However, the Army lacks a transporter erector launcher, which would help it strike North Korean military targets in the event of a conflict.

The Agency for Defense Development anticipates the longer-range K239 to help the Army offset its insufficient missile arsenal. For example, if the agency’s efforts are successful, the K239 MLR could simultaneously attack 12 enemy targets, providing a long-range strike capability and allowing the military to use its ballistic missiles for high-value targets instead.

Daehan Lee is a South Korea correspondent for Defense News. He previously worked at the U.S. and Belgian embassies in Seoul, for the People Power Party, and for election camps. He also served as a translator for the South Korean Navy. His interests include Asia-Pacific security, defense acquisition, South Korean politics and foreign policy.

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