By Bijan Razzaghi
With tensions heating up on the Korean peninsula the possibility for an armed conflict has increased and countering the threat posed by North Korea’s artillery must be a priority as it has the range and ability to hit South Koreas capital Soul. Most of North Korea’s artillery pieces are in the mountains and hills just beyond the DMZ 35 miles away. It is estimated that US and allied forces would be able to eliminate the threat posed by artillery within the first 48 hours. In order to do this though the US and allied forces would need to maintain air superiority over North Korea and neutralize the countries air defense systems and air force.
North Koreas air defense force is heavily armed and is intergraded using early warning radars such as Kashesh which is an S band radar and is mobile. This radar can track targets at up to 93 miles away. The air defense systems operated by North Korea include 1900 SA-2s and 75 SA-5 static surface to air missiles capable of exceeding speeds of up to Mach-4 as well as 300 shorter range SA-3s. All of these surface to air missiles are fixed and are from the 1960s and 70s era. The more advanced surface to air missiles in North Koreas possession include the SA-6 KUB and BUK mobiles SAMs. The BUK is particularly deadly because of its ability to turn on and off its search radar and move through the dense terrain undetected. The most deadly of North Koreas air defense systems are the KN-06 which is based on the HQ-9 and S-300V. If this missile is functioning it uses a phased array radar that can observe an entire grid of airspace simultaneously as apposed to traditional radars that go in a circular or left to right pattern. This gives the radar the ability to detect targets in real time making it particularly dangerous for non stealth aircraft.
The first task for allied forces would be using Tomahawk cruise missiles to eliminate the static SA-2 SA-3 and SA-5 surface to air missiles. The surface to air missile sites can be detected using satellites or stealthy RQ-170 sentinel drones. Large amounts of Tomahawks would need to be used given the high volume of North Korean SAMs it is likely a combination of delivery platforms would need be used such as warships as well as long range B-52s. The Tomahawks will likely need to focus on SAM sites near known artillery positions on the border and Ballistic missile launching sites throughout the country. The Tomahawk strike would have to be synced in order to allow the air defense network to fall at a faster rate. The second step would be to destroy both threatening artillery positions near the DMZ that have been detected and the more deadly BUK, SA-6 and KN-06 missies systems. Stealth F-22s armed with JDAMs and SDBs along with available Air force F-35As and Marine Corps F-35Bs would be used to fly undetected in enemy territory to bring down the remainder of the SAM network along with artillery. The final threat would be posed by North Koreas 40 Mig-29s and 105 Mig-23s. These can be countered by F-22s and F-15Cs conducting fighter sweeps. Artillery threats on the border then can be targeted by B-1s ,B-52s, F-15Es and A-10s. Sustained airpower would be able to suppress artillery to safe guard Seoul. Once air superiority is gained the allies can focus on targeting DPRK Ground Forces and the remainder of its Air Force.
It is possible that a diplomatic solution will be successful through China or the United States but if the war becomes hot allied forces have tools for the job and the priority would be protecting South Korea and Japan from attack. The deployment of THAAD and Patriot missiles defense systems make the defense from ballistic missiles easier.