Friday, March 29, 2013

North Korea vs. South Korea and US match-up: Missiles

So with all the rhetoric being banded about by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, how does it match up with the nations it is going to annihilate?

Well, its longest ranged missile is the Taep'o-dong 2. A two- to three-stage ballistic missile developed with Russian, Chinese and Iranian assistance between 1987 and 1992. Tested twice (2006 and 2009) and it has failed both times. But if and when they get it to work, it should be able to carry a 1,000 kg warhead 10,000 km - enough to hit Alaska.

The next is the Taep'o Dong 1 developed during the 90s with Russian assistance, and it consists of the No Dong missile as its first stage and a variant of the Scud B or C as its second stage. With a 1,000 kg payload it is believed to have a range of around 2,000 km. In 2006, a US defence report said that North Korea had between 20 to 30 of these missiles.

Seeing as both these missiles are a little on the large size, they can only be deployed from certain bespoke launch sites. As these will be under satellite surveillance and they both use liquid fuel,. they both require a few days of preparation in which to get them in the air. More than enough time to make both areas glow if the need arises.

However, North Korea does possess something a little smaller (again, liquid propelled), but a little bit smaller in size than the two above. The Musudan (BM-25) based on the Russian R-27 missile which they developed for their Yankee class Ballistic submarine. However, it has only a maximum range of around 4,000 km (2,500 miles), with a 1,000 kg warhead, so it doesn't have the legs to reach the US from the Korean peninsula. However, there is nothing to stop them fitting launch tubes onto a cargo ship.

The rest of North Korea's missile inventory concists of variations of the Russian Scud missile, which themselves are direct copies of the German V2 missile.

So what do the South Koreans (SK) have in which to combat the above?

Seeing as it isn't nuclear armed, they have to make do with smarter weaponry, their primary missile system is the Hyunmoo (Eagle) - a surface launched cruise missile - it can carry a 500 kg warhead over 1,000 km. Where the above have a target accuracy of around 30 km, the Hyunmoo-3 can hit a target within feet (circular error probable). So pound for pound, the South Koreans have the better missile, and while the North Koreans could hurt the South Koreans, at the end of the day, they would come off worse, and that is just from their neighbours in the south.

As for the US, well, there simply isn't a contest, as she can field a whole tranche of missile systems which makes what NK has seem like a child's school project.

The North Koreans know that in any future shooting war, they are simply not going to win, and for all their bluster this time around, the SK and the US are going to teach them a lesson they are simply not going to forget.