Pining for Control: South Korea Buying ABM Radars, AMD C2
As North Korea prepares for another intercontinental missile test, South Korea continues to modernize its forces and take steps toward full sovereign control of its defenses. “Raytheon Begins SAM-X/Patriot Missile Work in South Korea” described one new piece of the ROK’s defenses. These PAC-2 GEM+ missiles are expected to be operational in 2010, and fully in place by 2012. South Korea doesn’t appear to be aiming as high as Japan, with its license-produced Patriot PAC-3s and long-range naval SM-3 systems, but medium range SM-2 Block IIIA/B missiles fired from ROKN KDX-III destroyers do offer another limited option for the ROK’s coastal cities.
As countries like the UAE have been quick to recognize, turning a series of point defenses into a cohesive system that can respond in time requires long-range detection, and strong regional command-and-control systems. Now, a key contract has been signed, as South Korea prepares to field its Air and Missile Defense Cell (AMD-Cell) radars and command system.
Contracts and Key Events
North Korea is believed to have deployed more than 600 short-range Scud missiles with a 320-500 km range, and around 200 Rodong missiles with a 1,300 km range.
Sept 23/09: Israel Aerospace Industries announces a $280 million pair of contracts with South Korea, one of which covers the Oren Yarok (EL/M-2080 Block B “Green Pine”) radar. South Korea will join Israel and India as customers for the system. Globes adds that IAI’s usual contract policies involve a down payment of 25-35%, suggesting that it will record $70-98 million revenue from these contracts in its consolidated financial report for 2009.
Reports as early as Sept 17/09 had indicated that the Israeli radar had won the AMD-Cell competition against Raytheon and Thales, and that a contract was imminent. Earlier discussions had revolved around figures of about $215 million for 2 Green Pine radar systems, and current reports offer a figure of $200 million for an undisclosed number of systems. The low number of TA-50 and F/A-50 fighter orders at this early stage of their development, and the EL/M-2032 fighter radar’s low R&D needs given its mature state, make those figures plausible in the absence of a detailed breakout between the 2 contracts. Ha’aretz adds that:
“South Korea is discussing with the IAI the possibility of purchasing the Arrow missile defense system [link DID's]. Israel is making contacts with other countries on this issue as well, with Turkey among those that have expressed interest. Nonetheless, chances are slim that a foreign country will purchase the Arrow before a joint Israeli-American missile defense development occurs.”
Ha’aretz is referring to 2 trends. One is America’s government using blocking tactics or pressure, in order to stymie Israeli sales to mutual allies in international competitions. If the equipment might be said to contain any American or American-derived technologies, the sale can be blocked outright, or simply made untenable by dithering over permissions. Otherwise, diplomatic pressure and sales of advanced American equipment to Israel become the lever. South Korea’s E-X AWACS competition, India’s MMRCA fighter competition, and Turkey’s tank competition have all featured as recent examples. The other trend is an evolving jockeying between Boeing’s GBI and Arrow, Raytheon’s SM-3 (which Israel is reportedly considering), and Lockheed Martin’s THAAD missile for significant long-term roles in land-based missile defense. IAI release | Korea Times | Ha’aretz newspaper | Globes business | Agence France Presse | Flight International.
May 19/09: The Korea Times reports that 3 foreign bidders have submitted contract proposals for South Korea’s AMD-Cell program: Israel’s Elta, Raytheon of the United States, and Thales Nederland.
IAI Elta’s Green Pine radar has already been discussed below. Thales Nederland manufactures a number of advanced active array naval radars, some of which are capable of ballistic missile tracking; SMART-L is probably the best known, and South Korea already uses it on their Dokdo class amphibious assault ships. Raytheon’s products include a number of missile defense radars, including the AN/TPY-2 used as part of the USA’s THAAD theater defense system.
South Korea’s DAPA defense procurement agency plans to select the finalist by the end of the year after reviewing each firm’s contract proposal, and finishing price negotiations.
Feb 15/09: The Korea Times reports that South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) is likely to select Israel’s EL/M-2080 Green Pine radar systems, buying 2 radar sets by 2010 in a WON 300 billion/ $215 million deal. Green Pine radars are an integral component of Israel’s own national missiles defense system, where they are used in conjunction with Patriot PAC-2 GEM+ missiles and Boeing/IAI’s longer-range Arrow-2 interceptors. They may also become part of India’s emerging ABM system.
Green Pine radars have a claimed detection range of 500 km/ 300 miles, which can be extended to 800 km/ 480 miles in the most modern versions. Just one of those “Super Pine” radars cold cover all of North Korea from a position well behind the armistice’s front lines.
The ballistic missile early warning radars are part of the ROK’s planned Air and Missile Defense-Cell (AMD-Cell), a missile defense command-and-control center that will play a key role in monitoring, tracking and intercepting incoming cruise and ballistic missiles from North Korea. AMD-Cell will reportedly be interoperable with US Forces Korea’s own theater missile defense system.
An anonymous source told the paper that the USA’s Forward-Based X-Band Radar-Transportable (FBX-T) was denied due to export restrictions, which the French M3R radar failed to meet all requirements. Overall:
“The DAPA concluded negotiations with foreign bidders over the selection of the early-warning radar systems last week and believes the Israeli radar is the most suitable for the country’s theater missile shield in terms of price and capabilities.”
Israel and South Korea have had limited defense ties over the years, but those ties appear to be growing. South Korea has begun buying Israeli UAVs, and Israel is considering South Korea’s T-50 jets as its future advanced flight trainers. See also: Korea Herald | Ha’aretz, Israel.
- IAI – EL/M-2080 “Green Pine” Radar system
- Radar Basics – Green Pine Radar
- Army Technology – Arrow 2 Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence System, Israel. Technically, an IAI/Boeing collaboration. Includes the Green Pine.
- Wikipedia – Arrow (missile). Includes a section covering the EL/M-2080
- IEEE Digital Library (Oct 15-18/96) – EL/M 2080 ATBM early warning and fire control radar system. “This paper describes the system concept and some of the hardware design…”