Straighten up, fly rightThe Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) has been fully installed by adding the four remaining launchers, out of six total.
The antimissile shield was brought in without the full support of Seongju County residents, but could not be further delayed given the escalated threat from North Korea following its sixth nuclear test. The battery comprises six launchers, a radar and a communication control unit.
The air, naval and ground force headquarters of Gyeryeongdae and the U.S. 2nd division in Pyeongtaek come under its umbrella.
But the capital, home to 20 million people, are not covered by it.
The capital relies on defense from the surface-to-air Patriot Advanced Capability system, or PAC-2, which has missiles that can fly up to 30 kilometers (18.6 miles). Instead of striking down targets, it hits and breaks a coming missile into pieces.
The success rate therefore is not high. If North Korea fires off nuclear-tipped missiles, the capital area could be wiped out instantly.
The capital needs extra protection immediately.
Some call for extra Thaad units around the capital, so that they can shoot down high-range missiles coming from North Korea.
Some also call for the newer version of the PAC-3, which can fly up to 70 kilometers at a speeds in excess of Mach 2.
The hit-to-kill system can strike down short-range projectiles and Scuds that reach 300 to 600 kilometers, as well as missiles that fly more than 1,000 kilometers.
Military experts should decide what are best and most economical. But they must decide fast to ensure protection around the capital, as millions of lives are at stake. The ruling Democratic Party has agreed to deploy Thaad after the sixth nuclear test.
DP floor leader Woo Won-shik said Thaad was inevitable and that the country should be more engaged in mounting pressure on North Korea instead of seeking dialogue.
The DP aggravated controversy over Thaad. It must act more like a responsible ruling party, not adding to the confusion.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 8, Page 34