Earlier this week, South Korea announced a substantial investment of approximately 290 billion won (US$218 million) to bolster its military capabilities and counter the evolving threats from North Korea’s underground weapon systems.

The investment will facilitate the development of an enhanced version of its homegrown bunker-buster missile, an initiative that aims to further secure South Korea’s deterrence capabilities. It is reportedly spearheaded by the state arms procurement agency and is slated for completion by the end of 2027.

Enhancing South Korea’s Deterrence: Precision Strikes Against Hidden Threats

According to reports, the Korean Tactical Surface-to-Surface Missile-II (KTSSM-II), an upgraded iteration of its predecessor, will be mounted on a mobile launcher. This new missile is strategically designed to deliver precision strikes against concealed targets within tunnels and bunkers, a necessity given North Korea’s penchant for hiding its weapons underground.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has confirmed that the primary targets for this advanced missile will be North Korean weapon systems stationed below the Earth’s surface, particularly their long-range artillery positioned inside intricate tunnel networks.

The need for such a development traces back to a significant provocation in 2010 when North Korea unleashed its coastal artillery fire on South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island, near the western sea border.

Tactical Surface-to-Surface Guided Weapon-II (Screengrab: South Korea’s DAPA)

The attack, which resulted in the loss of two marines and two civilians, was executed from concealed underground tunnels. In the aftermath of this tragic event, South Korea recognized the urgency of enhancing its missile capabilities, leading to the inception of this project.

Enhancing Range and Penetration for Strategic Superiority

One of the most notable improvements of this new bunker-buster missile is its augmented range and penetration capabilities. The existing system, which boasts a range of up to 180 kilometers, will be surpassed by the enhanced version.

While exact specifications have yet to be disclosed by DAPA, the new missile is anticipated to extend its range beyond 300 kilometers. This increased range will significantly expand South Korea’s operational flexibility and ability to engage threats deep within North Korean territory.