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Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
The South Korean army has developed a new indigenous counter-battery radar system designed to prevent long-range artillery strikes against the Seoul metropolitan area, the South’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on Monday.
Seoul’s arms procurement agency said the military has developed the so-called “counter-artillery detection radar-II” amid fears about North Korea’s ability to hit South Korea’s capital with heavy artillery.
“The counter-artillery detection radar-II is the core equipment of our forces’ counter-fire operations, which can incapacitate North Korea’s long-range artillery threatening the capital area,” DAPA said in a written statement.
North Korea’s long-range artillery includes 170 mm self-propelled (SP) guns and 240mm Multiple Rocket Launcher (MRLs). DPRK state media released images of the 300mm multiple rocket launcher (MRL) for the first time in early March last year.
In a 2016 White Paper, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) reported that around 70 percent of the DPRK’s active land forces are deployed south of the Pyongyang-Wonsan line.
The MND argued that the North’s ground forces are “maintaining military readiness to make a surprise attack at any time” and pointed to long-range artillery as a “major threat.”
The 170mm SP guns and 240mm MRLs – deployed on the front lines – would be capable of a “surprise, concentrated and massive attack” on Seoul, military authorities added.
While the DPRK possesses around 5500 MRLs and 8600 pieces of field artillery, the Republic of Korea (ROK) has about 200 of these launchers and 5700 pieces of field artillery.
The South Korean government has invested 54 billion South Korean Won (USD47.7 million) into the project since November 2011, and the counter-artillery detection radar-II was deemed suitable for combat this April after six years of research and development (R&D). It will be deployed in 2018.
The counter-battery radar can detect, track and automatically send the location of the enemy artillery to ROK artillery corps.
South Korea can then fire back “in real-time” and “destroy the origins of the attack.”
“Our military has laid the groundwork for annihilating the origin of the enemy’s [attack with] firepower at the initial stage by providing immediate counter-fire in case an enemy makes provocations,” Army Col. Kim Dong-ho of the Maneuver and Firepower Program Department of DAPA said in a statement.
The ROK army already operates the Arthur-K counter-battery radar system, produced by the Swedish aerospace and defense firm Saab.
But DAPA said there had been “continual demands” from military units to improve the detection range and operational sustainability of the system due to increasing “performance of the enemy’s long-range artillery.”
The counter-artillery detection radar-II increased the maximum detection distance to 60km from 40km and extended continuous operation to 8 hours (18 hours to the maximum) from 6 hours when compared to Swedish-made Arthur-K.
The multi-target ability of counter-artillery detection radar-II has nearly doubled, DAPA said in its written statement.
The new radar system comes after last week’s announcement by DAPA that the South Korean navy would soon deploy a new indigenously produced tactical ship-to-surface guided missile which can strike key facilities and military bases in North Korea.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), Edited by NK News