South Korean military to develop new "reverse asymmetric weapon systems by 2020

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South Korean military to develop new "reverse asymmetric weapon systems" by 2020

South Korea’s Defense Ministry on Monday, January 19, unveiled a new defense vision based on information and communication technologies, and other cutting-edge digital platforms to better counter evolving North Korean threats and other security challenges.


South Korea's Agency for Defense Development (ADD) launched the electroamgnetic pulse bomb development in September 2008​



In consideration of the limited defense resources and various security threats, we will push to come up with more creative, innovative ways to manage our military, going beyond the old approach that was mainly about catching up with others rather than moving ahead of them,” Han told reporters after the policy briefing at Cheong Wa Dae.

Creative defense means creating new defense values through a significant change that will be brought about by infusing humans’ creative thinking and cutting-edge technologies into all aspects of defense-related tasks.

The ministry plans to focus on developing what it terms “reverse asymmetric weapon systems”.

Among the weapons under development are high-power microwave (HPM) weapons and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) bombs, which are expected to be developed by the early 2020s. The ministry is also considering the development of laser-based weapons.
The South Korean military has spent about 29 billion won (27 million U.S. dollars) since 2012 on research for laser beam weapons development. If deployed, the laser beam, which is powered by electricity, is expected to reduce missile defense costs for South Korea as it costs less than 10 U.S. dollars per shot, far lower than around 1 million dollars per interceptor missile, said the report.

The state-run Agency for Defense Development (ADD) has reportedly been developing the electro-magnetic pulse since 1999. After completing its nine-year research, the ADD launched the EMP bomb development in September 2008.

HPM, known as an “E-bomb,” can spew out massive electromagnetic power to damage all electronic devices, experts say. The high-power microwave weapon, which South Korea aims to develop by early 2020s, emits a beam of about 2 billion-watt microwaves, to cause outage of all electronic products within the radius of some 300 meters.

EMP also unleashes a high-intensity burst of electromagnetic energy that causes severe current and voltage surges to damage adjacent electronic devices. South Korea’s state-run Agency for Defense Development has been researching and developing the EMP weapons systems. If the EMP bomb, carried by an aircraft, is detonated in the air, it could paralyze or disable all electronic devices within the radius of about 1-5 kilometers, causing mobile phone outage and electric grid damages.

These weapons that are designed to disrupt operations of electronic devices and paralyze social infrastructures are called “soft-kill” weapons, compared with “hard-kill” weapons such as missiles that directly strike enemy targets. The ministry said it would build the soft-kill capabilities through close technological cooperation with the civilian sector.

Under the creative defense drive, the ministry also envisions a future “smart soldier system” equipped with a host of digital devices such as a high-tech communications tool, a night-vision combat-control helmet and an Internet-linked battle suit.

It is also considering paying more attention to developing unmanned battle systems including robots for combat deployment, surveillance tools and unmanned boats that would ensure fewer human losses and greater operational efficiency. The South-Korean military plans to spend about 20 billion won in 2015 to develop unmanned battleships, expected to be deployed in the disputed western sea border, said the report.