The deployment of a U.S. missile shield in South Korea has begun with the arrival of a part of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery, Seoul’s defense ministry said Tuesday.
A South Korean defense ministry official told Xinhua that two mobile launchers and a part of other equipments of the THAAD battery arrived in the Osan Air Base, about 70 km south of the capital Seoul, at Monday night.
The first elements of the U.S. anti-missile system were transported by the U.S. C-17 transport aircraft, and moved to an unidentified military base of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK).
THAAD is composed of six mobile launchers, 48 interceptors, X-band radar and the fire and control unit.
THAAD’s X-band radar can peer deep into territories of China and Russia, causing strong backlashes from the two countries. The U.S. missile shield breaks strategic balance and damages the security interests of the two nations.
Seoul and Washington agreed in July last year to install one THAAD battery in southeast South Korea by the end of this year. The site was changed in September into a golf course in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province.
On Feb. 28, Lotte signed a contract with the defense ministry to swap its golf course in Seongju for military land near Seoul, speeding up the process of the U.S. missile defense system installation.
Push for the THAAD deployment was made amid strong objections from residents in the Seongju county and the Gimcheon city, which faces the site of the super microwave-emitting anti-missile system.
The residents have held candlelight rallies every night since the THAAD deployment decision.
Local media speculations said the THAAD deployment would be completed in April or May. The deployment date is advanced from speculations on sometime between June and August.
Other equipments, troops and engineers necessary for the THAAD battery in South Korea would be transported in a gradual manner.
The South Korean defense ministry said the THAAD system will be deployed in the Seongju golf course through relevant procedures. The processes include the land provision to the U.S. forces, the basic designing of the base, the evaluation of environmental effect and the base construction.
To accelerate the processes, the South Korean military reportedly planned to implement two or more procedures simultaneously. Enditem