By Jung Sung-ki
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has selected Israel's Green Pine radar system for the country's independent low-tier missile shield to enter service in the early 2010s.
The early warning radar will play a key role in monitoring and tracking incoming cruise and ballistic missiles from North Korea, the agency said Thursday.
``DAPA conducted a final evaluation of both radar systems built by Israel's Elta and the Netherlands subsidiary of France's Thales from Aug. 24 to 26, and Elta's Green Pine Block-B scored higher than its counterpart,'' it said. A contract is to be signed this month.
The EL/M-2080 Green Pine Block-B, or Super Green Pine, is capable of detecting and simultaneously tracking dozens of targets about 800 kilometers away in any weather conditions, a DAPA official said.
The system can cover all of North Korea from a position well behind the border.
The radar, which will be interoperable with the Patriot missile interceptors, costs about 100 billion won (some $83 million), the official said, adding that DAPA plans to buy two sets of the radar systems.
They will be part of South Korea's planned Air and Missile Defense-Cell (AMD-Cell) to become operational by 2012.
The Ministry of National Defense announced earlier this year that it would spend about 300 billion to build the AMD-Cell and associated radars.
The center is a key component of the nation's low-tier Korea air and missile defense (KAMD) system to counter the lingering threat posed by North Korea's low-flying, short- and intermediate-range missiles.
AMD-Cell will be 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, ministry officials said.
It also would be interoperable with Theater Missile Operations-Cell (TMO)l, run by U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), to track and take down North Korean ballistic missiles, they said.
The KAMD will meld the early warning radars, Aegis-based SM-2 ship-to-air missile systems and modified PAC-2 interceptors bought from Germany.
In 2007, South Korea signed a $1-billion SAM-X deal to equip its Air Force with 48 secondhand PAC-2 launch modules, radars and missiles, including the Patriot Anti-Tactical Missile and Guidance Enhanced Missile Plus (GEM+) from Germany. The service has received 24 systems, with 24 more set for delivery in the coming months.
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 could reach Alaska.