(2nd LD) UAE to purchase S. Korean M-SAM missiles in US$3.5 bln deal

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(ATTN: RECASTS 5th para to clarify the weapons’ Korean name)
By Kang Yoon-seung and Song Sang-ho
SEOUL, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) — The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has said it plans to purchase South Korean-made mid-range surface-to-air missiles in a deal likely to reach US$3.5 billion.
The UAE’s Ministry of Defense tweeted Tuesday that it plans to acquire the missile, known as M-SAM. It did not elaborate further.
An official at South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) called the UAE’s announcement “positive” but noted negotiations have yet to be finalized.
“We still need to see how negotiations on the details will proceed,” a DAPA official said on condition of anonymity.
The M-SAM system, called “Cheongung II,” is a core element of South Korea’s multi-layered anti-missile program. Cheongung, means heaven’s bow in Korean.
Employing the “hit-to-kill” technology, the missile is designed to intercept hostile missiles coming in at altitudes below 40 kilometers.
The state-run Agency for Defense Development launched the project to develop the M-SAM in 2012. The missile passed a suitability evaluation for field operations in 2017, and its mass-production began the following year.
A series of local defense firms, including LIG Nex1 and Hanwha Systems, have participated in the manufacturing of the missile.

colin@yna.co.kr
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