he latest non-nuclear submarines are much more stealthy and formidable than previous generations. Now the South Koreans have combined this with a ballistic missile capability. This could foreshadow a new dawn in submarine capabilities.
South Korea has test fired a ballistic missile from its new KSS-III class AIP (Air Independent Power) equipped submarine. As many observers note the significance of this from a geo-political standpoint, it is also important from a submarine technology angle. The combination of AIP and conventionally-armed ballistic missiles opens new opportunities for navies. South Korea is the first, but it may not be the last.
The missile was tested aboard the lead KSS-III submarine, Dosan Ahn Changho (도산안창호) earlier this month, and announced today. This follows recent tests from submerged platforms. The Hyunmoo 4-4 missile (현무-4-4) is the submarine launched derivative of the country’s indigenous Hyunmoo 2B (현무-2B) balletic missile. It is seen as a direct counter to neighboring North Korea’s submarine launched ballistic missile program. That focuses on the much larger Pukguksong (Pole Star, aka Polaris) family of missiles. These have a range in excess of 1,000 km (620 miles) and could be equipped ,with the north’s nuclear missiles.