Private operator Space X has launched South Korea’s first military communications satellite into space as Seoul seeks to bolster its defense capabilities against its nuclear-weapon neighbor North Korea.
South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), in a statement on Tuesday, said the ANASIS-II satellite took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in the US state of Florida at 5:30 p.m. local time. the day before.
SpaceX, the private rocket company owned by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, confirmed the satellite’s deployment around 32 minutes after liftoff.
– SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 20, 2020
DAPA said the launch made South Korea the 10th country in the world to have a military-only communications satellite, which will provide “permanent and secure military communications.”
The satellite is expected to reach its orbit level in two weeks, he said, adding that the South Korean military will take control of the system in October after testing.
Seoul seeks to bolster its military capabilities as it struggles to end a deal under which, if war breaks out, US commanders would have authority over their combined forces.
The satellite was to “improve the independent operational capabilities of the South Korean military,” an official from his defense ministry told the Yonhap news agency.
Strains in alliance
Seoul and Washington are security allies, and the United States has 28,500 troops stationed in the country.
But their relationship has been strained in recent years, sparked by differences in their approaches to Pyongyang and cost-sharing responsibilities.
Reuters news agency, citing South Korean officials, said the two allies have yet to agree on the scale, scope and timing of annual military exercises, which typically begin in early August. , because the coronavirus pandemic had disrupted the travel of American troops.
South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper had a phone call Tuesday but could not comment on details of the exercises, officials told Reuters.
Jeong and Esper did not discuss the withdrawal of US troops, the South Korean official said, calling a recent Wall Street Journal report “baseless” that the Pentagon had offered the White House options to reduce the burden. US military presence in South Korea.