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Old 09-19-2003, 05:09 AM
thedrifter thedrifter is offline
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Cool U.S. military in South Korea displays enhanced air defense system

U.S. military in South Korea displays enhanced air defense system

By Soo-Jeong Lee
3:01 a.m. September 18, 2003

SUWON AIR BASE, South Korea ? The U.S. military displayed its newest missile defense system on Thursday about 50 miles south of the border with North Korea, amid growing concerns over the communist state's missile development.

The enhanced interceptor missiles, called the Patriot Advanced Capability-3, are the first to be fielded permanently outside the United States.

A PAC-3 launcher can accommodate up to 16 missiles that intercept and destroy incoming ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and enemy aircraft. The U.S. military used the PAC-3 missiles during the war with Iraq.

"The arrival of the upgraded Patriot system will bring significant improved capability to South Korea as well as contribute to the overall deterrence that U.S. forces bring to the alliance," said Lt. Col. David Pendergast, a Patriot missile battalion commander.

During a display for the media at Suwon Air Base south of Seoul, the box-shaped launcher was raised and rotated into firing position.

North Korea had no immediate reaction to the demonstration.

If a war a breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, military experts say North Korea could shower the South Korean capital, Seoul, with thousands of artillery shells and missiles in the first few hours.

There are four PAC-2 and four PAC-3 batteries in South Korea. A PAC-2 launcher can carry only four missiles.

North Korea has an aggressive missile development program, although its 1.1 million-member army is equipped mostly with outdated Soviet-era weapons.

North Korea shocked the region in 1998 by test-launching a three-stage Taepodong-1 missile that flew over Japan and landed in the Pacific. The missile is believed to have a 1,540-mile range, enough to reach all but the most far-flung of Japan's islands.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are running high over North Korea's suspected development of nuclear weapons.

The communist state has accused the United States of exaggerating the North's missile threat to boost its military presence in South Korea and invade the North.

The enhancement of Patriot missiles "is clearly defensive and not offensive in nature, which lessens tensions on the Korean Peninsula, not adds to it," Pendergast said.

The Patriot upgrade is part of Pentagon plans to spend an additional $11 billion over the next several years to strengthen its forces in South Korea.

The United States keeps 37,000 soldiers in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.


SSgt. Roger A.
One Proud Marine
Once A Marine............Always A Marine.............
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