February 24, 2015 09:53
The U.S. is trying to figure out a compromise so it can indirectly extend its controversial missile shield to South Korea.
Seoul is reluctant to permit the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system to be deployed here because it is chiefly aimed at containing China, an increasingly vital regional partner.
The THAAD system in question was to come with a radar with a 1,800-2,000 km range, which is capable of monitoring and intercepting Chinese ballistic missiles.
But there is a shorter-range option. "The high-performance X-Band radar system consists of two models -- an early warning radar with a long range and a phased-array radar with a short range of less than 1,000 km," a government source said Monday.
"Apparently the U.S. Forces Korea now wants to deploy only the phased-array radar."
The effective range for a phased-array radar is about 600 km, shorter than the 900 km of the Israeli-made Green Pine early warning radar which the South Korean military uses to detect North Korean missile launches.
The two THAAD radar models use such different software that it would take considerable time and money to switch from one to the other.
"It'll be hard for Beijing to continue opposing the plan with a shorter-range radar that's permanently turned toward North Korea," the source added.
The government here officially denies that any plans for THAAD deployment exist.
It intercepts incoming ballistic missiles in the upper tier of the terminal phase, when the missile turns toward the target.
A THAAD battery consists of six launch pads, each with eight missiles, a radar, and control and communication equipment. It costs about W1 trillion (US$1=W1,110).
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com