Israel's Iron Dome a Quick Fix for Seoul's Vulnerability to North Korean Attack?

(Forbes) Loren Thompson - South Korea's capital, Seoul, is 35 miles from the demilitarized zone, within range of North Korean artillery and short-range rockets that hold 25 million South Koreans - half the country's population - hostage. Truck-mounted Thaad missile defense batteries began deploying in South Korea earlier this year. But Thaad is not configured to deal with artillery shells, and rocket launchers located right over the border don't loft their munitions to an altitude where Thaad could be effective. So protecting Seoul against short-range threats is difficult. Last week, Raytheon displayed an effective solution at the annual exposition of the Association of the U.S. Army in Washington that could be available for deployment within months. Raytheon calls the system SkyHunter, but longtime military observers will know it as Iron Dome - the short-range air and missile defense system that Israel activated in 2011 to counter rockets fired by Hizbullah in Lebanon. Iron Dome has a success rate of over 90% in countering short-range ballistic threats and has successfully intercepted over 1,500 hostile munitions headed for Israel. It is designed to defend precisely the kind of target the South Korean capital represents - a densely populated urban area. Its radar, built by Israeli company Elta, can track the trajectories of over a thousand targets simultaneously. SkyHunter looks to be the only combat-proven option that could be on the ground and in action in South Korea by next spring. So chances are, U.S. investment in Israel's defense is going to pay dividends few observers could have imagined when Iron Dome was first conceived.

2017-10-20 00:00:00

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