Seoul's defense ministry denied speculation Friday that there could be another deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea in addition to the full six-launcher THAAD battery currently installed at the base in Seongju county.
This comes after the director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, Vice Admiral John Hill, at a hearing Monday on the Pentagon's budget for fiscal year 2021, brought up the possibility of moving the THAAD launcher to another location.
In the budget proposal, the U.S. has set aside 49-million U.S. dollars for development at the Seongju site.
The proposal stated the possibility of the host nation, South Korea, contributing funds has "been addressed."
But Seoul's defense ministry denies that the two countries' have discussed such arrangements in their defense cost-sharing talks, sticking instead to their 2017 agreement under which Washington covers the costs for the THAAD base's construction while Seoul provides the site itself.
An additional deployment would have fueled criticsms initially prompted by the lack of a thorough environmental survey of the Seongju site, which the ministry says is now in progress.
The ministry said, however, that it had been notified by the U.S. previously of plans to upgrade the anti-missile system without explaining further.
Multiple sources in the South Korean military say the improvements are intended to better integrate THAAD and the Patriot interceptor using flexible communication paths to the THAAD launchers without having to mobilize the battery's control and radar equipment from the Seongju base.
The Patriot system could also use a radar track provided by THAAD, which has a longer range than the Patriot at one-thousand kilometers, to enable it to launch sooner and intercept incoming missiles earlier.
Since the THAAD deployment in Seongju in 2017, Beijing has retaliated against Seoul with economic measures, arguing the deployment is part of a U.S. scheme to counter the rising military power of China and Russia.
"The defense ministry had denied the claim arguing the deployment was to better cope with various rising missile threats from North Korea.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News."