Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Two Korean Navies, Who Beats Who?

Is North Korean navy strong enough to eat the bullets from the South? Just at the 20 anniversary of the fallen Berlin wall, Korean navies were reported exchanging fire on their controversial western sea borders. It said that one North Korean ship was seriously damaged in the skirmish.

If a large scale of sea-war breaks out between the two Korean navies, which side will laugh to the end? To find the result, let's read the comparison as follows.

To build a blue water navy, South Korea has launched the Korean Destroyer Experimental (KDX) program since 1996. After 13-year development, the KDX program has reached its third stage. Now the South Korean navy has three KDX-I class destroyers (3,800 tons each), six KDX-II class destroyers (5,500 tons each), and one KDX-III class destroyer (10,000 plus tons). The other two KDX-III class destroyers are expected to be commissioned in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

All of these light and heavy destroyers are equipped with advanced combat systems. The KDX-III is one of the most advanced Aegis warships in the world. It features Aegis Combat System built by Lockheed Martin of the United States. It can simultaneously track about 1,000 aircraft within a 500-kilometer radius, providing 360-degree coverage and is capable of conducting simultaneous operations against aircraft, ballistic and cruise missiles, ships and submarines. Only a few countries, including the United States, Spain, Japan and Norway, deploy Aegis warships.

Besides the excellent destroyers, South Korean navy also has two helicopter carriers and nine Ulsan class frigates. Of 13 submarines in service, two are AIP equipped submarines, which can dive for a long period without surfacing out of waters. To deal with North Korean submarines, South Korean has bought eight P-3C anti-submarine warfare planes from U.S., and eight more P-3Cs are to be delivered by 2010. It has also 20 plus British Lynx Mk. 99 helicopters for anti-submarines.

Recently, the South Korean navy announced a plan to build six 5,600-ton "mini-Aegis'' destroyers (KDX-IIA) between 2019 and 2026 in an effort to help facilitate coastal and blue-water operations. The medium-sized KDX-IIA destroyers will be equipped with SPY radar and close-in weapon systems from U.S. There are total about 170 commissioned ships in South Korean navy.

Compared to the south side, the North Korean navy does not change much. Many of its warships are only able to sail within 50 nautical miles. Although the North Korean navy consists of approximately 420 combat vessels, 60 submarines according to the British newspaper The Times, most of them are small torpedo boats, patrol boats, crafts, and midget submarines.

North Korean surface warships are equipped with 25 to 37 mm guns and guided missiles such as: SS-N-2A STYX anti-ship missiles from Russia or their Chinese version CSS-N-1 Scrubbrush missiles. These missiles are ones with active radar guidance, some of them with Infrared. They are easy to be interfered by electronics jamming, or blocked by chaffs or flares in a war.

North Korean submarines are still stay on the level of 1960s, such as: Romeo class or Whiskey class of the former Soviet Union. They also have about 200 personnel landing crafts with a maximum speed of 40 knots (74 km/h) and a radius of 335 nautical miles (620 km) at 28 knots (52 km/h).

Based on the comparison above we can see, if a full scale of sea-war happens between the two Korean navies, the north side would be smashed to pieces by the south counterpart in a short period. That is why Kim Jong-il has to grip nuke power in his hands, because this is the only way to last his regime longer.