The US has approved a South Korean request for some $1.4 billion worth of PAC-3 Patriot missiles and associated equipment, as the US ally moves to build its own integrated BMD system by the 2020s. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced the approval of the sale last week, which covers a possible deal for 136 Patriot advanced capability PAC-3 missiles, two flight test targets, as well as a host of support equipment and services. The South Koreans require PAC-3 missiles to increase interoperability between their ground and sea-based missile defense forces and US forces, and to “effectively conduct and sustain (ballistic missile defense) operations,” according to the release. The PAC-3 missiles will serve as a core component to the South’s planned Korea Air Missile Defense program, and will decrease the country’s reliance on deployed US forces to support BMD efforts. Late last month, the US and the South agreed to broader intelligence and operational cooperation in the BMD mission, following the annual US-South Korea security consultative meeting in Washington, D.C.
More than 100 B-21s will be needed if the nation is to avoid creating a high demand/low capacity capability, panelists said on a Hudson Institute webinar. The B-21's flexibility, stealth, range and payload will be in high demand for a wide range of missions, both traditional and new.