The South Korean military procurement agency has quietly signed a contract for 90 more Taurus bunker-busting missiles.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration, or DAPA, did not issue a news release about the purchase, however, which was likely aimed at not disturbing the warming trend in relations between North and South Korea,
Tension between both countries has been reduced dramatically as talks between North and South Korean diplomats have increased, and as the potential for a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump progresses.
The missile system is made by the German firm Taurus Systems GmbH. The contract was signed in February, according to DAPA spokesman Kang Hwan-seok.
The most recent contract is the second one since 2013 when DAPA ordered 170 of the missiles to arm the country’s F-15K fighter fleet. Each missile costs around $1.8 million.
The missiles are part of South Korea’s “kill chain” of preemptive strike weapons designed to take out North Korea’s underground facilities in a crisis. The missiles have a range of around 500 km (around 310 miles).
The Taurus missiles are said to be capable of destroying the North’s underground command-and-control and weapons storage facilities as well as Kim’s various hideouts. [source]
Analysis: It makes sense not to announce the contract, but it also makes sense to go through with the purchase. No one yet knows what will come of the recent post-Olympics thaw in North-South relations or even if a summit between Kim and Trump will ever occur. Besides, the North’s modus operandi is to feign a thaw in relations long enough to extract concessions and buy time to continue development of its nuclear and ICBM programs.
South Korea’s liberal president desperately wants diplomacy to settle the decades-long dispute with North Korea, but he’s not about to take a risk with his country’s security, either. The purchase is productive and one of those he needs to make but hopes he never has to use.