Gov't to Boost Spending on West Sea Defenses

      November 30, 2010 10:47

      South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, Defense Acquisition Program Administration and other military authorities on Monday presented lawmakers with a W455.6 billion supplementary budget necessary for emergency weapons procurement following North Korea's artillery attack last week on Yeonpyeong Island in the West Sea (US$1=W1,154).

      Last week, the military requested W263.6 billion in additional spending, but the National Assembly's Defense Committee instructed it to increase the budget. As a result, the military bolstered the shopping list by another W192 billion.

      Around W100 billion in working expenses was added to a W100 billion arms procurement budget. The new weapons will focus on hardware capable of detecting North Korean troop movements, as well as artillery and missile launchers for precision strikes on North Korean artillery hidden in bunkers, military officials said.

      South Korea will bolster detection capabilities along the west coast near the five West Sea islands to provide 24-hour surveillance of North Korean troop movements and instantly target the North's artillery positions.

      The hardware will include a mid-sized tactical airplane (W5 billion), upgraded capabilities of unmanned aerial vehicles mounted on Navy vessels, Swedish-made Archer radar systems that will replace the AN/TPQ-37 anti-artillery radars that failed to function last week (W37.2 billion), sonar detection radars (W8.9 billion) and thermal and infra-red imaging cameras (W3 billion).

      It is extremely difficult to destroy North Korean coastal artillery bunkers with the existing South Korean-made K-9 self-propelled howitzers. The added defense spending allocates money to buy more accurate weapons. The military is looking into purchasing Israeli-made Spike missiles by 2012 capable of delivering precision strikes against coastal artillery positions hidden in bunkers 25 km away.

      Also reflected are plans to buy 18 more K-9 self-propelled howitzers (W86.6 billion), and add more K-55 self-propelled howitzers (W16.9 billion), which are older versions. The military also intends to buy more K-10 ammunition transport vehicles to supply the K-9 howitzers (W19 billion).

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