August 10, 2010 10:39
North Korea's coastal artillery guns are not very accurate but once fired there is no way to intercept the shells before they hit, a Navy officer said after the North fired artillery shells into waters near the de facto maritime border on Monday.
"We can avoid incoming missiles by intercepting them with machine guns or dispensing aluminum chaff in the air, but it's impossible to do that with shells fired from artillery guns," the official said. "If the North Korean coastal artillery fires a barrages of shells all at once, it could pose a threat even to state-of-the-art naval vessels."
The North has about 1,000 artillery guns on the western coast. The South Korean military believes that they, together with the Samlet and Silkworm ground-to-ground missiles, which have a range of about 90 km, are a direct threat to South Korean warships and islands in the West Sea.
"Because it's impossible to intercept shells, we'd have to hit their batteries directly to incapacitate them," a military officer said.
The North's coastal artillery batteries consist mostly of 130 mm large-caliber guns with a range of 27 km capable of firing six shells per minute, and 76.2 mm guns with a range of 12 km capable of firing eight shells per minute.
They are stationed in cave emplacements and are rolled back and forth on 5 m rails. Gunners have to open the doors to the emplacements and remove camouflage flaps before firing, which at least gives the South Korean military some warning.
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