N.Korean Infrared Missiles Threaten S.Korean Fighters

South Korean fighter jets and helicopters are easy targets for North Korea's medium-range infrared missiles, a discovery that has apparently prompted the military to look for solutions.

According to the Board of Audit and Inspection, an audit between March 2 to April 30 of last year showed that all of South Korea's airborne weapons systems, including its 500 F-15K fighter jets, transport airplanes and helicopters, are vulnerable to North Korea's newest medium-range infrared missiles.

The BAI submitted a report of its findings to the Defense Ministry in December.

North Korea has SA-18 Igla shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles and AA-11 Archer short-range air-to-air missiles that use 3-5 ㎛ medium-range infrared waves and are not diverted by short-range flares launched by South Korean aircraft but continue tracking the heat signatures of the fighter planes.

The South decided back in 2009 to develop medium-range infrared flares by 2016 to deal with the North Korean missiles. But the development has been brought forward to 2014 following the discovery of the latest threat. But even if the development goes as planned, South Korean aircraft will remain vulnerable for at least the next four years.

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 07, 2011 13:20 KST