Israel's Green Pine radar system
By Jung Sung-ki
South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) is likely to select Israel's Green Pine radar systems for the country's independent low-tier missile shield to enter service by 2012, a source said Sunday.
The ballistic missile early warning radars, part of the Air and Missile Defense-Cell (AMD-Cell), a missile defense command-and-control center to be built by the same year, will play a key role in monitoring, tracking and intercepting incoming cruise and ballistic missiles from North Korea, said the source.
The agency plans to buy two sets of the radar systems by 2010.
``The DAPA concluded negotiations with foreign bidders over the selection of the early-warning radar systems last week and believes the Israeli radar is the most suitable for the country's theater missile shield in terms of price and capabilities,'' the source said on condition of anonymity.
Among other candidates were U.S. X-Band radar and the French M3R radar. The purchase of the Forward-Based X-Band Radar-Transportable (FBX-T) was impossible due to U.S. law that forbids the export of the state-of-the-art weapons system, while the French radar system failed to meet some operational requirements, he said.
South Korea's military wants ballistic missile early warning radars with a detection range of more than 500 kilometers. The EL/M-2080 phased array Green Pine radar system built by Israel Aerospace Industries is believed to have a detection range of some 500 kilometers and its modified version, Super Pine, is capable of detect and simultaneously track dozens of targets about 800 kilometers away under any weather conditions.
Defense Ministry sources said about 300 billion won ($214 million) will be spent to establish the AMD-Cell, capable of monitoring moves related to North Korea's short- and medium-range missiles around the clock and directing missile interceptors to shoot them down if needed. The cell will be inter-operable with the U.S. Forces Korea's theater missile defense system, they said.
Based on the command-control center, Aegis-based ship-to-air missiles and ground-based PAC-2 missile interceptors are to engage North Korean missiles under the so-called Korean air- and missile defense (KAMD) network system aimed at engaging the North's low-flying, short-and medium-range missiles.
North Korea is believed to have deployed more than 600 short-range Scud missiles with a range of 320 to 500 kilometers and 200 Rodong missiles with a range of 1,300 kilometers near the inter-Korean border. The communist state is believed to have developed a 6,700-kilomter-range Taepodong-2 missile that can hit Alaska.
The Navy plans to equip its 7,600-ton KDX-III Aegis destroyers with Raytheon's SM-2 Block IIIA/B missiles and is considering purchasing the state-of-the-art SM-6 extended-range missile being developed by Raytheon and the U.S. Navy.
The Navy has launched two KDX-III destroyers and plans to launch one more hull fitted with a Lockheed Martin-built Aegis combat system and state-of-the-art anti-air, land-attack and anti-sup missiles, by 2012.
The Air Force is receiving 48 second-hand PAC-2 launch modules, radars and missiles, including the Patriot Anti-Tactical Missile and Guidance Enhanced Missile Plus (GEM+) from Germany under the $1 billion SAM-X contract sealed in 2007.
South Korea has not taken part in the U.S. missile shield because of financial constraints and possible anti-U.S. sentiment. It also does not want to provoke neighboring countries such as North Korea and China.