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South Korea to launch indigenous submarine with ballistic missile capability

File photo of a South Korean sub

The South Korea navy has said that the country will launch its third indigenous submarine on Tuesday. The 3,000-ton-class sub, which can also fire ballistic missiles, will enhance its underwater defence capabilities.

Only last week, Seoul had demonstrated its naval prowess by firing its first ballistic missile from a submarine in response to neighbour North Korea's missile tests. These submarines are equipped with six vertical tubes for firing the missiles.

According to Korea Times, the launch ceremony will take place at the shipyard of Hyundai Heavy Industries in the southeastern city of Ulsan. This will be the third and the last of the three Changbogo-III Batch-I submarines which the country has been building since 2007.

The announcement by the South Korean navy came on the same day as rival North Korea fired yet another missile. This was North Korea's third missile test in the past fortnight.

The $2.77 billion South Korean submarine project has focused on strengthening inhouse capacity for submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The 83.5-meter-long and 9.6-meter-wide submarine can carry 50 crew and remain underwater for 20 days. The South Korean navy will get the sub in 2024 after test operations.

The navy said: "The submarine has a strong capability of deterring provocations as it can be equipped with SLBMs test-fired earlier this month. Some 76 per cent of its parts are locally produced, which allows for maintenance and other technological support in a timely manner".

South Korea is also developing an indigenous aircraft carrier and plans to procure the American F-35 stealth fighters for it. 

The two Koreas are locked in a race to outdo each other in weapon systems. North Korea is also working on its submarine and missile launch capabilities. Last week it had test fired a missile from a train. However, Pyongyang's underwater missile launches are believed to be in primitive stages.

The entire region is caught up in tensions with China threatening Taiwan with an invasion; Japan planning to buy missile systems and upgrade its navy with US help and Taiwan on the verge of procuring more missiles to deter China.

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