South Korea conducts cruise missile drill amid North Korean threats
A Taurus missile fired from a South Korean air force F-15K fighter jet is about to hit a target during a drill, off the country's western coast, South Korea on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. (South Korea Defense Ministry)
The Associated Press
Published Wednesday, September 13, 2017 1:00AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 14, 2017 6:49PM EDT
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - South Korea said Wednesday it conducted its first live-fire drill for an advanced air-launched cruise missile it says will strengthen its pre-emptive strike capability against North Korea in the event of crisis.
South Korea's military said the Taurus missile fired from an F-15 fighter jet travelled through obstacles at low altitudes before hitting a target off the country's western coast.
The missile, manufactured by Germany's Taurus Systems, has a maximum range of 500 kilometres and is equipped with stealth characteristics that will allow it to avoid radar detection before hitting North Korean targets, according to Seoul's Defence Ministry.
South Korea has been accelerating efforts to ramp up its military capabilities in face of a torrent of nuclear weapons tests by North Korea, which on Sept. 3 conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date.
Shortly after the nuke test, Seoul announced it reached an agreement with Washington to remove the warhead weight limits on South Korean ballistic missiles, which under a bilateral guideline could be built for a maximum range of 800 kilometres.
A pre-emptive strike against Pyongyang's leadership would be difficult to undertake, but it's widely seen as the most realistic of the limited military options Seoul has to deny a nuclear attack from its rival.
The North said its latest nuclear test was a detonation of a thermonuclear weapon built for its developmental intercontinental ballistic missiles that were flight tested twice in July. The country is also developing solid-fuel missiles that could be fired from land mobile launchers or submarines. It flew a powerful new midrange missile over northern Japan last month while declaring more missile tests targeting the Pacific Ocean.