UAE Plans To Acquire The Korean Cheongung Air Defense System

In a statement on the official Twitter account of the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Defense on Tuesday, November 16, it was revealed that the M-SAM (Cheongung) medium-range air defense system made by South Korea will be procured by the UAE.

“The UAE Ministry of Defense intends to acquire the Korean Air Defense System (MSAM), which will constitute a qualitative addition to the capabilities and capacities of the national air defense, explaining that the value of the deal may reach about 3.5 billion US dollars (equivalent to about 12.9 billion dirhams).” the ministry said in a statement.

Tariq al-Husani, CEO of the Governmental Tawazun Economic Council, told the UAE official news agency WAM that the two parties agreed to develop the system in accordance with the operational requirements of the UAE Air Force and air defense units. Noting that the agreement was carried out within the framework of the Tawazun Economic Council’s recent project, which manages the Ministry of Defense’s acquisition and contracting affairs, Husani stated that the Council will continue to work with its strategic partners to improve the UAE’s defense capabilities and achieve strategic priorities in this field.

The UAE already has powerful air defense systems in place, including MIM-104 PAC-3 Patriot missiles made in the United States, long-range Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) systems, and Pantsir-S1 missiles made in Russia. Some of these systems are stationed to protect the country’s critical energy infrastructure, while the majority are used to protect the Yemeni border from attacks by Iran-backed Houthi militias.

Patriot missile PAC-2 / Source

On the other hand, because the UAE is a military and economic player in a number of crisis zones, including Libya, Syria, and Yemen, it is directly or indirectly involved in a number of regional conflicts. When all of these political factors are considered, a small gulf country like the UAE is forced to seek solutions to its defense concerns. One of these solutions is the UAE’s development of the Halcon SkyKnight air defense missile system, while another is the procurement of this new generation M-SAM medium-range surface-to-air guided missile system made in South Korea.

Cheongung, also called Cheolmae-2 or KM-SAM, based on the technology of the Russian-made 9M96 missile used in the S-350E and S-400 air defense systems, developed through the technical support obtained from lmaz-Antey and Fakel, is a medium-range air defense missile (SAM) system developed by the South Korean Defense Development Agency (ADD).

According to the Defense Development Agency, the system features six launchers, a passive electronically scanned array radar station operating in the X band, and a firing control device. The system can target air targets at a distance of up to 40 kilometers and at an altitude of up to 15 kilometers (up to 20 kilometers in the latest version). The radar can identify targets within a 100-kilometer radius and track 40 targets at the same time. If the UAE procurement plan is carried out, M-SAM (Cheongung) will have achieved its first export success.