(As a brief side note before we get rolling, yes, I do have opinions on the recent situation in North Korea, but Christmas shopping & a hectic work schedule have generally kept me from having the time to sit down and hash it out. Generally, I’m a big fan of the belief that things will stay mostly the same, with a dash of what happened with hermit empire #2, Turkmenistan, transitioning from the cult of personality and wacky hero worship that was the “Türkmenbaşy” (Niyazov) era to the current “pretend-modernization-but-still-freedom-lacking” Berdymukhammedov ‘presidency.’ But we’ll leave that for another day. Let’s blow up some bunkers…)
On December 16, 2011 a South Korean lawmaker dropped word that the Republic of Korea would be moving forward with plans to develop bombs capable of penetrating fortified North Korean installations:
SEOUL – South Korea is developing a bomb capable of penetrating North Korean bunkers or caves housing artillery pieces, according to a member of parliament’s defense committee.
An aide to lawmaker Song Young-Sun quoted her as saying that the state-run Agency for Defense Development (ADD) launched a 6.2 billion won ($5.35 million) project last year to develop the “bunker-buster.”
“ADD is developing a bomb capable of penetrating 1.5-metre-thick (4.95 feet) concrete walls with a view to completion by 2013,” Song was quoted assaying in comments Dec. 15. “When developed, this weapon will be used for precision strikes against military strongholds in the North.”
A military official told Chosun Ilbo newspaper the new bombs would be capable of destroying most bunkers and other structures hiding airplanes and tanks.
North Korea’s long-range artillery is often hidden in fortified caves and rolled out to fire shots before being rapidly pushed back. For this reason, South Korean troops were unable to retaliate effectively with their K-9 howitzers when the North shelled Yeonpyeong Island near the disputed Yellow Sea border in November last year. Four South Koreans including two Marines were killed.
The ADD also plans to develop another bomb capable of penetrating five-six meters once the initial bunker-buster is completed, Chosun said. (Source: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE)
This news came only a week and a half after the US and South Korea finalized a $71 million arms agreement to export American Bunker Busting bombs to the ROK, only the second country after Israel to be approved for purchasing the weapons.
As the South Korean modus operandi these days seemingly revolves around buying the best available foreign technology as a stepping stone to building their own (strikingly similar) designs, I’d venture a guess that their 1.5 meter-penetrating missile’s final designs will look something like the US’s GBU-27 Paveway III, and that the ROK’s 5-6 meter design will fall in line with the US’s GBU-28‘s capabilities.
While the AFP piece sites sheltered artillery destruction as a major role for these missiles, I’d roll the dice on the idea that South Korea is taking a page from Israel in their wish to have the strike capability to cripple their enemy’s nuclear facilities as a first priority.
Craig was born & raised in the United States, having recently returned there after over five years in Asia. He is currently pursuing further education in the realms of East Asian Studies and Politics. Craig is an avid fan of the political, economic, and military machinations occurring throughout the Asian continent and how those turning gears affect the rest of the world. He's currently covering both North and South Korea for Asia Security Watch, enjoying shedding light on to this far-too-often ignored slice of Asia.
Craig Scanlan has 82 post(s) on Asia Security Watch