Seoul, Korea– South Korea is developing a new type of artillery and short-range rocket defense system modeled on the Israeli iron dome to further upgrade its military hardware on the peninsula, which is still technically at war.
The South Korean government said last month that it plans to invest approximately US$2.5 billion in R&D and deployment of new systems by 2035.
The Korean War of 1950-53 ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty. Since then, the North and South have established armies and armaments along the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two countries. North Korea has also developed nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in recent years. Although the envisaged South Korean defense system cannot defend against these weapons, it can target artillery and short-range rockets.
It is estimated that North Korea has unearthed 10,000 artillery pieces, including rocket launchers, north of the DMZ, less than 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the Greater Seoul area and its 25 million inhabitants (half of South Korea’s population).
South Korea’s new system is designed to use interceptor missiles to protect the South Korean capital, its core facilities, and critical military and security infrastructure from potential North Korean bombing.
But South Korea’s artillery interception system needs to be much stronger than the Israeli system.
“Iron Dome occasionally reacts to rockets fired by militant groups such as Hamas and irregular forces,” said Colonel Suh Yong-won, a spokesperson for the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), in June. “Some parts of the system are similar, but the system we are going to build is designed to intercept North Korea’s long-range artillery. Given the current security situation, this requires a higher level of technology.”
He said this is why the cost of the Korean system is expected to be much higher than that of the Israeli system.
Military experts also pointed out that Israel needs to shoot down far fewer projectiles than South Korea may need. In the most recent conflict in Gaza, Hamas launched approximately 4,300 rockets in 10 days. But according to a recent report, North Korea uses more advanced sighting systems, artillery, and rocket launchers, and initially can fire about 16,000 rounds of bullets per hour. report Han Nationality Daily reported.
“This is an extremely challenging task,” said Ankit Panda, a senior researcher at Stanton, the Nuclear Policy Program of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace.
Nevertheless, experts seem to believe that South Korea will be able to develop an effective missile defense system to counter North Korean artillery and rockets. The problem is the price. For many countries, national security, especially military budgets, challenge traditional cost-benefit analysis.
“South Korea has no choice or no alternative,” said Cho Dongjun, director of the Center for Korean Studies at Seoul National University. “South Korea is worried that North Korea can fire long-range artillery without fear of retaliation.”
The motivation to develop this system came from 2010, when North Korea Shelling the border of Yanping Island And killed four people.
According to the “Korean National Daily”, after the Yanping incident, the South Korean authorities had considered introducing the iron dome system, but ultimately deemed it inappropriate. Their focus at the time was to destroy the source of the incoming fire.
To this end, South Korea last year deployed a new South Korean tactical surface missile, KTSSM, a so-called “cannon killer” with a range of 100 kilometers (62 miles), specifically designed to destroy North Korean artillery. Joe said he also specializes in nuclear strategy. But South Korea’s KTSSM needs time to target and destroy sources of fire — artillery and rocket launchers — which may give Pyongyang enough time to strike and destroy key facilities in Seoul.
South Korea’s new “Iron Dome” system will defend against this threat, and the Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile defense system has been deployed to defend North Korea’s ballistic missiles.
Prevent nuclear escalation
Some experts believe that by defending North Korea’s artillery and rockets in the demilitarized zone, limited provocations will be contained, and it is unlikely that they will escalate into a larger conflict involving North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
“North Korea’s escalation ladder is now very high—nuclear weapons,” Joe explained, adding that South Korea must be able to respond specifically to the artillery threat, or impose a greater risk of provoking an escalation.
The development of nuclear weapons by North Korea has brought many strategic challenges beyond the weapons themselves. The threat of using them makes Pyongyang more bold and puts Seoul at a disadvantage, despite its extremely superior conventional power and alliance with the United States.
“North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons is the reason for the breakdown of the strategic balance… The missile defense has slightly adjusted this imbalance,” explained Gao Mingxuan, a researcher at the Asan Policy Research Institute.
However, anti-missile and anti-artillery defense is regarded as a relatively expensive undertaking, involving years of research and development, and its benefits are questionable. The expenditure of the defense system can be compensated by deploying more offensive missiles to overcome the defense system, and the cost will be lower.
Carnegie’s Panda said: “Any attacker, whether it is North Korea or Hamas, is always cheaper to obtain more offensive missiles than defenders continue to purchase defensive interceptor missiles.” “The resources South Korea will spend… …. There are opportunity costs elsewhere, and South Korea can spend on offensive weapons.”
At the same time, South Korea’s booming military-industrial complex can benefit a lot from the project, beyond the initial research, development, and deployment of South Korea.
“A system like this may be very attractive as a potential export product,” Panda said.
Despite this, some people still strongly oppose the plan, believing that South Korea’s increasing military spending-now close to 50 billion U.S. dollars a year-is driving an arms race between South Korea and North Korea.
“Long-range artillery is a threat, but South Korea’s military and weapon deployment are also a threat to North Korea,” said Park Jong-un, secretary general of the famous South Korean non-governmental organization “People’s Unity in Democracy”.
South Korea has been upgrading its military hardware in many areas, including the development and deployment of advanced naval destroyers, its own artillery, rocket and missile systems, and the F-35 joint strike fighter, which are a generation ahead of North Korea’s Kola weapon system. It is this imbalance in conventional power that prompted Pyongyang to adopt an alternative strategy.
“The increase in armaments ultimately prevented North Korea from making other choices… to focus on asymmetric weapons such as nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction,” Park said.
Park Geun-hye, who has been engaged in peace activities for 15 years, said that the spending of South Korean democratic leadership even exceeds that of conservatives. Democrats want to avoid criticism of weakness and to appease troops that are not so enthusiastic about peace initiatives.
There are also corporate motives behind approving such an expensive project.
“This may be a way to feed integrated defense companies such as Samsung or Hanwha for unrealistic military defense,” Park said.
One of the criticisms of “Iron Dome” is that it prevents the Israeli government from solving the long-term root cause of the problem through diplomatic means.
Park Geun-hye made the same evaluation of South Korea.
“Instead of Iron Dome, I think we need to pay more attention to dialogue.”