South Korea approves project to modernize US-made Patriot missile defense system

South Korea on Monday approved a 750 billion won (US$605 million) project to upgrade its Patriot missile defense system by 2027, following the North's recent missile provocations, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said.

According to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, the Defense Project Enhancement Committee has endorsed the project to purchase an unspecified number of advanced Patriot missiles (PAC-3) and upgrade the PAC-2 launchers to more advanced PAC-3 launchers, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration.

The move came after North Korea launched three ballistic missiles, including an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), last week in a move seen as part of efforts to diversify its nuclear capabilities.

"This project is expected to ensure the effective air defense of the Patriot system in relation to the capital, Seoul, its neighboring cities, and key national facilities, and enhance its capabilities to intercept ballistic missiles," the administration said in a press release.

The PAC-2 system uses a fragmentation warhead to intercept hostile targets at an altitude of about 20 km, while the PAC-3 system uses "hit-to-kill" technology to deliver direct strikes to incoming missiles at an altitude of 40 km.

The committee also approved a project to develop a mine sweeping helicopter capable of detecting and removing sea mines. For this project, the government plans to spend 970 billion won by 2030.

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