The U.S. Defense Department on Friday alerted Congress that South Korea wants to bolster its Patriot air-defense system, while North Korea meanwhile is expected to be eyeing more long-range rocket launches.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency -- a Pentagon branch that oversees foreign-military sales -- said Seoul had formally proposed buying 112 Patriot Anti-Tactical Missiles and associated support equipment and personnel training, according to an agency press release. The purchased missiles also would be upgraded to run on the Guided Enhanced Missile-Tactical configuration. The deal with Raytheon Co. is projected to be worth $404 million.
The requested missiles will be enhanced versions of the Patriot Advanced Capability 2 systems that South Korea already possesses.
"These upgraded missiles will provide [South Korea] with an enhanced capability to defend against ballistic missile, aircraft and cruise missile threats," the Pentagon release says.
The South is seeking to import the air-defense technology in accordance with efforts to improve its national antimissile capabilities against North Korea, which is enhancing its own offensive missile capabilities.
Pyongyang on Wednesday told a U.N. General Assembly committee gathering it would continue to carry out satellite launches, though no specifics were offered on the timeline for the next rocket firing, according to a Yonhap News Agency report. While North Korea insists its rocket firings are peaceful, much of the international community views them as covers for intercontinental-ballistic missile tests. The North's last rocket launch in December 2012 was punished with heightened U.N. Security Council sanctions.