South Korea Joint Chiefs announce development of a system to counter North Korean long-range artillery

Posted on : 2017-10-17 17:30 KST Modified on : 2017-10-17 17:30 KST
National Assembly Defense Committee audit shows parties divided on wartime OPCON handover
Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo
Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo

Documents submitted by the Joint Chiefs in their briefing to the parliamentary audit conducted by the National Assembly’s Defense Committee, which was held at the Joint Chiefs’ office, state that “we are considering the development of an interceptor system to counter concentrated enemy fire directed at important state and military facilities, including the War Command Headquarters and the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD).”

The Joint Chiefs added that “The Agency for Defense Development is developing key technology for directly and simultaneously intercepting North Korean long-range artillery rounds as they fall.”

North Korean 170mm self-propelled guns
North Korean 170mm self-propelled guns

North Korea has reportedly deployed over 300 long-range artillery (which include 170mm self-propelled guns and multiple rocket launchers) around the armistice line, where they are aimed at Seoul and its environs. While the South Korean military is hurrying to develop KAMD, this is designed to defend against the threat of North Korea’s Scud and Rodong missiles, and it would be useless against long-range artillery.

The Joint Chiefs were critical of the idea of introducing Israel’s “Iron Dome” rocket defense network: “Iron Dome is a weapon system that is appropriate for defending against sporadic rocket attacks by irregular military units such as Hamas. As such, it is inappropriate for a simultaneous long-range artillery attack by North Korea against the capital region.”

North Korean multiple rocket launchers
North Korean multiple rocket launchers

When People’s Party lawmaker Kim Dong-cheol asked whether the military was drawing up another operations plan – a reference to a scandal about North Korean hacking of Operations Plan 5015 (OPLAN 5015) – Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo said that the military was “drafting and implementing [a new operations plan] according to our capabilities and in response to the growing sophistication of North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.”

“Operations plans are updated and changed regularly in line with the situational changes each year. This is done through ongoing consultation with the US,” Gen. Jeong said.

During the parliamentary audit, the ruling and opposition parties were divided on the question of pushing forward the timetable for South Korea recovering wartime operational control (OPCON) of its military. Democratic lawmaker Woo Sang-ho advocated a quick handover and said that opposing the plan was like “letting Japan rule Korea because Koreans lacked the ability to do so,” while Liberty Korea Party lawmakers Jeong Jin-seok and Kim Hak-yong said that “OPCON shouldn’t be transferred early because we need to maintain a deterrent against North Korea giving the increasing sophistication of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.”

“There is no set timeframe for the OPCON handover – it will take place when we possess the capability. Even under a future joint command system, we will have the same deterrent against North Korea that we enjoy under the present joint command,” Gen. Jeong said.

By Park Byong-su, senior staff writer

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