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S. Korea to complete building own missile defense system by 2015
SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's military will complete building its own missile defense system by 2015 that is designed to intercept ballistic missiles from North Korea, the defense ministry said Tuesday, amid high tensions following the North's two deadly attacks last year.

   South Korea, which has ruled out joining the U.S.-led global missile defense system, has gradually built the independent, low-tier missile defense shield since 2006 by acquiring Patriot missiles and long-range early warning radars.

   The Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system is aimed at allowing the South's military to track and intercept incoming ballistic missiles and cruise missiles from North Korea.

   "By 2015, the military will complete building the KAMD system to shoot down the enemy's ballistic missiles," the Defense Ministry said in a report sent to the National Assembly.

   The move is a part of the military's mid-term plans to bolster its defense capabilities against North Korea's focus on unconventional or "asymmetric" warfare, the report said.

   With the help of ship-to-air missile systems from Aegis-equipped destroyers and modified Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptors, the KAMD system would enable the South's military to engage the North's low-flying, short and medium-range missiles, ministry officials said.

   The South's military will also consider purchasing an aerial tanker to strengthen its air defense, it said.

   North Korea has deployed hundreds of short-range Scud missiles with a range of up to 500 kilometers. The North succeeded in test-firing Rodong missiles with a range of 1,300 kilometers in the 1990s and also deployed them for operational purposes, according to the ministry.

   In 2006, North Korea test-launched a long-range Taepodong-2 missile, but it exploded 40 seconds after launch. Another Taepodong-2 traveled some 3,200 km and landed in the Pacific in 2009.

   Tensions on the Korean Peninsula remain high after North Korea torpedoed a South Korean warship and shelled a southern border island last year that resulted in 50 people, including two civilians, being killed.

   The defense ministry said last month that South Korea will deploy advanced spy drones and stealth fighter jets at an early date. South Korea had originally planned to introduce the unmanned spy drones by 2015.

   kdh@yna.co.kr
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