(NSI News Source Info) February 14, 2009: South Korea’s military has recently upgraded its manuals to counter increased threats by North Korea’s coastal artillery systems on the western side of the peninsula, military sources said yesterday.
“Coastal artillery pieces are normally hidden in caves, but the North’s military has recently brought them outside along the western coastal line,” a South Korean military source said. Although Park Sung-woo, public affairs chief of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said such activity could prove to be inconsequential, the military has heightened its readiness against the potential emerging threat.
Tension between the two Koreas escalated in recent weeks following Pyongyang’s repeated warnings that it would void all non-aggression accords and the maritime border in the Yellow Sea. Signs of the North’s preparation to fire a long-range missile aggravated matters.
The North’s recent placement of artillery along the Yellow Sea coast will not improve matters. “When the artillery systems are moved out from the underground position, it is possible for the North to shoot without warning,” said another military official. “And that will be a threat to South Korean vessels on patrol.”
According to the military officials, 100 artillery pieces are deployed in caves along the western coast line. The artillery systems are not precision weapons, but firing tens of rounds at once can be a great threat to South Korean naval ships. Military sources said the North has upgraded the coastal artillery systems over the past few years by replacing some of the 75-millimeter and 100-millimeter guns with 122-millimeter and 130-millimeter guns.
That allowed the weapons’ range to increase from 10 kilometers to more than 20 kilometers. Last March, the North Korean military conducted firing practice of the coastal artillery systems on a large scale along the Yellow Sea.
“The North’s Navy has learned that it has no chance of winning a sea skirmish against the South after its two defeats in 1999 and 2002 on the Yellow Sea,” a retired general said. “South Korean vessels have automated guns and radars that are far more accurate, so the North will probably prefer a provocation of firing coastal artillery systems or anti-ship missiles rather than engaging in a sea battle.”
A source with the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the Navy and the military upgraded its operations manual against the North’s coastal artillery systems. A North Korean attack by the coastal artillery systems will be countered with South Korea’s K-9 self-propelled guns deployed at Yeonpyeong Island.
South Korean ships are also ready to counter the North’s anti-ship missiles which have up to 95-kilometer range.
The North will have to operate its radar first before firing its ship-to-ship, ground-to-ship or air-to-ship missile to attack a South Korean ship.
As soon as the radar is turned on, the South will use jamming signals or use chaff, a radar countermeasure to deceive the radar, military sources said.