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Patriot missiles in Pyeongtaek get an upgrade

Aug 17,2017
The U.S. Army announced that its 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, successfully completed a Patriot missile defense system modernization effort that will provide protection from potential North Korean attacks.

Targa Gibbs, Patriot modernization project officer of the brigade, said that the eight-month task was aimed at ensuring that everything worked and met the industry standard, and training soldiers and crew on the new equipment.

“As part of the training, the batteries networked into the battalion data link architecture from geographically dispersed locations around the peninsula and conducted air battles,” the army said in a statement Monday.

The largest benefit of the overhaul was said to be the replacement of many systems and updating outdated technology. In part of an ongoing plan to enhance air defense capabilities on the Korean Peninsula, the brigade will, in the coming months, modernize their Avengers surface-to-air missile system that protects ground units from incoming short-range missiles, said the army.

The statement did not mention whether the brigade adopted and trained for the all-new Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE), a Lockheed Martin hit-to-kill interceptor, but a local military source told the JoongAng Ilbo that it has.

The PAC-3 MSE incorporates a larger, dual-pulse solid rocket motor, larger fins and upgraded actuators and thermal batteries, according to descriptions from Lockheed Martin.

The South Korean Air Force owns a less advanced version, the PAC-2, and is now in the works of modernizing to the PAC-3, which is still less efficient than the PAC-3 MSE.

Seoul’s efforts to modernize its arsenal come as North Korea is on a fast-track to master nuclear and ballistic missile technology, successfully testing two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, LEE CHUL-JAE [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]