Antisubmarine defenses boosted
The South Korean military is beefing up its surveillance power against North Korean submarines, and the Navy said it would deploy five more antisubmarine aircraft.
The move to strengthen South Korea’s defense against submarines comes after the sinking of a South Korean warship last March. Last October, the Navy extended its air patrols in the Yellow Sea farther north to guard against North Korean submarine incursions.
Eleven P-3CK maritime surveillance aircraft were in use throughout South Korea as of late 2010, but the Navy decided to increase the number to 16 starting this year. Refurbishment of the five additional aircraft was completed in October. The Navy operates the fleet of 16 from its bases in Pohang and Jeju Island.
“There is a limit to detection with destroyer ships and corvettes that use sonar,” said a military source. “With the additional antisubmarine surveillance aircraft, we are now able to watch the movements of North Korean submarines very closely.”
The aircraft, also nicknamed the “submarine killer,” is known for its ability to detect submarines and have taken part in large-scale drills, including the South Korea-U.S. joint drill last July in the East Sea and antisubmarine drills in the Yellow Sea.
The Navy had originally planned to use 16 P-3C surveillance aircraft in 1995, but due to a budget shortfall as well as corruption in the purchasing process, the Navy was forced to operate with eight. The eight newest planes are refurbished versions of an older model, the P-3B. One was reinforced with new parts by L-3 Communications Holdings while seven were upgraded by Korea Aerospace Industries.
“The P-3CK models given to the Navy are very modern and are as good as new,” said the official.
By Jeong Yong-soo [email@example.com]