South Korea speeds up anti-submarine defenses
Just when it needs them most, South Korea is having mechanical problems with its anti-submarine helicopters, a Seoul newspaper reports, and is accelerating plans to buy new ones.
Jolted by the sinking of one of its ships in March, and with further naval clashes with North Korea possibly in the offing, South Korea is embarking on a muscular build-up of its anti-submarine warfare capability, according to the Korea Times and other sources.
The paper said South Korea has accelerated plans to purchase 20 new anti-submarine helicopters, as “part of efforts to bolster the country's coastal defenses against North Korean incursions.”
“The Navy temporarily suspended its fleet of anti-submarine Lynx helicopters last month after two of the aircraft crashed,” the paper reported late last week. “The service had operated 25 Lynxes for anti-submarine and surface warfare.”
It could not be readily determined whether the Lynx fleet, manufactured by the Anglo-Italian helicopter maker AgustaWestland, was returned to service, in whole, in part, or at all.
“North Korea’s ability to penetrate South Korean waters and sink the Cheonan have forced Seoul to reexamine its defense posture,” Bruce Klingner, a former chief of the CIA’s Korea unit, said by e-mail.
Even before the patrol corvette was sunk by a torpedo, South Korea began deploying the first of eight, U.S.-made P-3 Orion Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft, refurbished with advanced technology, its navy said in February.
South Korea has also “been working on its coastal defense by building a line of high-tech, high-speed, coastal patrol vessels” -- the guided missile-equipped Patrol Killer fast boats, Terence Roehrig, a Naval War College professor, said. “Three have been built … and they planned to have 20 of these by 2015.”
South Korea is also accelerating the development of its underwater detection capabilities.
Last week the South Korean cabinet approved a $30 million supplementary budget allocation to upgrade ship sonar and deploy additional sensors, according to Klingner and South Korean reports.
Meanwhile, U.S. officials “say they are planning a long-term program to plug major gaps in the South’s naval defenses,” the New York Times reported Monday.
“[T]he critical question is what capacity and deployed resources does the U.S. devote to watching North Korea sub movements in this area,” said Scott Snyder, director of the Center for U.S.-Korea Policy at the Asia Foundation.
“The countermeasures [the Pentagon would add] are striking because they now involve the U.S. to a much greater degree in defending a line that had traditionally been left to South Korea to defend, despite over a decade of sporadic inter-Korean clashes,” Snyder added.
“The anti-sub exercises coming up as early as next month send a message. It will be interesting to see how North Korea responds to this,” he said.
| May 31, 2010; 2:30 PM ET
Categories: Foreign policy, Intelligence, Military
Save & Share: Previous: Bill Clinton to the rescue, again
Next: Audit: Justice Department clueless on WMD attack
Posted by: TwoCentsWrth | May 31, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Predator-Hunter | June 1, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.