Defense plan for 2017-2021 focuses on North threats

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Defense plan for 2017-2021 focuses on North threats

As Pyongyang continues to develop its submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), the South Korean military will purchase an upgraded early-warning radar system that can bolster its detection of such missiles.

The military is also looking into developing a nonlethal “blackout bomb” that incapacitates electric power infrastructure but doesn’t harm people, and ground-to-ground guided munitions to counter the North’s multiple-launch rocket systems and long-range artillery, according to the Ministry of National Defense’s latest five-year defense blueprint announced Wednesday.

In a five-year defense plan for 2017 to 2021, the Defense Ministry on Wednesday allocated a budget of 226.5 trillion won ($192.5 billion), particularly strengthening detection and destruction methods to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. This represents a 2.6 percent decrease from the 2016-20 defense plan

Of this, 73.4 trillion won would be allocated to bolster defense - which includes purchasing of weapons - while 153.1 trillion won would go to maintenance and operation expenses for troops.

Some 7.9 trillion won will be allocated to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats through the Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) and Kill Chain systems.

This includes 2.5 trillion won for the locally-developed KAMD, a shield that focuses on terminal-phase, low-altitude missile defense. Another 5.4 trillion won goes to the so-called Kill Chain, an integrated information, surveillance and pre-emptive strike system designed to precisely eliminate North Korean threats before they are launched.

The military also allocated 24.1 trillion won for defense against any North Korean provocations by land or a possible total war scenario.

The South Korean military currently uses two Israeli Green Pine antiballistic radar units, which have a range of 500 kilometers (310 miles) and are used to detect North Korea’s long-range missile launches.

It is expected to introduce an advanced version of this system by 2020. The Super Green Pine radar system, which has a detection range of up to 900 kilometers, will be useful in detecting SLBMs, which North Korea has been developing at a rapid speed.

A new GPS-guided munition being developed by the military has a range of 120 kilometers, according to a defense official, and can be used to incapacitate North Korea’s artillery units that threaten Seoul, which number 300.

The guided weapon has already been tested several times, the official said.

“We will complete development of the munition in 2018, and they will be put in the field in 2019,” he added.

Another 18.6 trillion won will be set aside for research and development of Korea’s own smart weapons, a higher amount than allocated before. This could include the development of the blackout bomb, which is also called a graphite bomb.

BY SARAH KIM, JEONG YONG-SOO [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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