August 04, 2010 07:07
North Korea deployed long-range anti-aircraft missiles with a range of 250 km near the demilitarized zone around the time of it sank the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan in March, making it more dangerous for South Korean fighter jets to fly routine patrol missions or carry out emergency flights.
A military source on Monday said the North moved some SA-5 missiles from Hwanghae Province to areas near the DMZ. "Our fighter jets' activity is therefore somewhat restricted. For example, our fighters have to avoid SA-5 tracer radar detection for fear of an attack when it is activated."
The SA-5 has the longest range of anti-aircraft missiles deployed warfare-ready in the world. It can hit South Korean fighters in flight over some areas in Gyeonggi and Chungcheong provinces, as well as over the frontline area and the Seoul metropolitan region.
The move seems to be aimed at preventing South Korean fighters from launching precision strikes on strategic targets in the North in an emergency, the source added.
If the SA-5 radar is activated, South Korean fighter jets will have to fly at an altitude of less than 3,000 m to avoid radar detection.
The North reportedly purchased about 350 SA-5 missiles and 20 launch pads from the former Soviet Union in the late 1980s and stationed them in Pyongyang, Wonsan and some cities in Hwanghae Province.
The Soviets developed them to shoot down U.S. strategic bombers. They can hit enemy aircraft at a speed of Mach 4 but are not very accurate.
The North also deployed medium and short-range missiles such as the SA-2 with the range of 45 km, the SA-3 (35 km), and portable short-range anti-aircraft missiles SA-7 and SA-16.
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