SEOUL, Feb. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Army has received the first batch of new homegrown 120-mm self-propelled mortar systems to replace existing decades-old mortars, the state arms procurement agency said Friday.
The latest systems will supplant the Army's aging 4.2-inch mortars that have been in service for more than 40 years, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
Under a deployment project that runs through 2025, the Army will get the new mortars mounted on armored carriers, along with fire direction center vehicles, DAPA said. They are to be used for close fire support operations.
Compared with the aging mortar, the new system's striking range is 2.3 times longer with its firepower nearly two times stronger, according to DAPA.
Hanwha Defense, a South Korean defense firm, manufactured the carrier for the new mortar developed by the local firm S&T Dynamics and assembled them to manufacture the overall system under an acquisition program valued at 779.4 billion won (US$648.9 million), DAPA said.
The program also includes the manufacturing of the fire direction center vehicle by Hanwha Defense on a budget of 101.6 billion won.
"The 120-mm self-propelled mortar is a core asset that elevates the operational capacities of South Korean mechanized units in charge of offensive maneuver missions to another level," Brig. Gen. Cho Hyun-ki, head of DAPA's Maneuver Program Department, said.