Australian Brigadier Damian Hill, in a conversation with Yonhap News Agency on July 24, 2023, offered his insights into the performance of the South Korean-manufactured K239 Chunmoo multiple rocket launcher system. This was during its participation in the biennial multinational Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023 in Australia.
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South Korea’s involvement in the biennial exercise Talisman Sabre has evolved since 2019, from an observer to a full participant in 2021. The 2023 iteration of the exercise is the largest to date, featuring a wide range of drills including amphibious landings, ground force maneuvers, air combat, and maritime operations.
The backdrop to this year’s Talisman Sabre exercise is an escalating geopolitical rivalry between the U.S. and China and the rising security uncertainties due to North Korea’s recent provocative acts, such as cruise missile launches.
The maiden overseas live-fire drill
Significantly, this is the maiden overseas live-fire drill for the Chunmoo system with the Marine Corps. This underscores Seoul’s dedication to enhancing its role in the exercise and showcasing its domestically developed weapons system to potential buyers.
Brigadier Hill’s evaluation of the Chunmoo system aligns with Seoul’s motive to fortify the arms industry collaboration with Canberra. Australia has become a pivotal market for South Korea’s defense industry, exemplified by the local defense firm Hanwha Defense’s contract in December 2021 to deliver 30 K9 self-propelled howitzers to Australia by 2027.
The exercise serves as a stage for the Chunmoo system to display its formidable firepower, aligning with South Korea’s ambition to broaden its foothold in the global weapons market. The country set a goal last year to ascend to the fourth-largest defense exporter globally by 2027, following substantial arms agreements with Poland, including a US$3.55 billion contract for the supply of Chunmoo multiple rocket launchers.
About K239 Chunmoo
The K239 Chunmoo Multiple Launch Rocket System [MLRS], a product of Hanwha Corporation, is an advanced multi-caliber MLRS from South Korea. The system was designed to provide increased firepower, precision, and mobility across varied combat scenarios. With a maximum range of 160 kilometers, the Chunmoo system plays a pivotal role in neutralizing threats from North Korea’s long-range artillery, earning its Korean moniker, “Chunmoo,” which translates to “sky cover.”
The K239 Chunmoo MLRS is capable of firing three types of munitions: 130, 227, and 239mm rockets and missiles. The Chunmoo MLRS can accommodate multiple rocket pods, enabling a variety of munitions to be launched in a single mission. This versatility empowers the system to confront a broad spectrum of targets and respond to diverse threats on the battlefield.
The system is equipped with cutting-edge guidance and targeting abilities, inclusive of GPS and inertial navigation systems, ensuring high precision and accuracy. Moreover, the Chunmoo MLRS comes with a contemporary fire control system and can be incorporated with other command and control systems, facilitating efficient coordination with other military units.
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