The chess game between North and South Korea is heating up dramatically:
North Korea has deployed SA-2 surface-to-air missiles to its west coast near the Yellow Sea border with South Korea as U.S.-led naval drills got underway in a show of force against the North’s deadly artillery attack on a South Korean island earlier last week, government sources said Sunday.
“(The missiles) appear to be targeting our fighter jets that fly near the Northern Limit Line (NLL),” the source said on customary condition of anonymity, referring to the Yellow Sea border.
South Korea and the U.S. on Sunday launched large-scale naval drills off the Korean Peninsula’s west coast, far south of the border where four people were killed and 18 others wounded in Tuesday’s surprise attack on Yeonpyeong Island.
The Soviet-designed SA-2 missile has a range of between 13 and 30 kilometers. Other missiles on the North’s west coast, such as the Samlet and Silkworm with ranges of up to 95km, have also been put onto launch pads, the source said.
The SA-2 is an older missile with an interesting history:
The first confirmed downing of an aircraft by the SA-2 system was of a Taiwanese reconnaissance aircraft of the RB-57 type, destroyed in 1959 over China. Successes continued to follow the system including the notable downing of Gary Power’s U-2 Spy plane that reached the global headlines (more than one missile was actually launched and the aircraft was hit several times before going down). This single act resulted in a re-thinking of military and reconnaissance planning when dealing with high-altitude Soviet air defense systems.
During the Vietnam conflict with America, Soviet-supplied SA-2′s to the North Vietnamese were responsible for aggressively targeting and destroying US Navy, Air Force and Marine aircraft. As a direct response, the United States was forced to develop counter-weapons systems to help combat the very serious SA-2 threat.
Despite advancements in Electronic CounterMeasure (ECM) systems and tactics, the SA-2 system still enjoyed relative success throughout the conflict and afterwards (some running through modernization programs to help extend the service life of the system). Never the less, the SA-2 Guideline would eventually begin giving way to the more advanced SA-10 series of surface-to-air missile systems.
So it’s an outdated missile that should be easily countered, nevertheless, something certainly seen to be an escalation of hostilities.
In the meantime, we have Jimmy Carter weighing in:
No one can completely understand the motivations of the North Koreans, but it is entirely possible that their recent revelation of their uranium enrichment centrifuges and Pyongyang’s shelling of a South Korean island Tuesday are designed to remind the world that they deserve respect in negotiations that will shape their future. Ultimately, the choice for the United States may be between diplomatic niceties and avoiding a catastrophic confrontation.
Carter is lending legitimacy to North Korea’s alleged attempt to garner respect and sadly, we have someone in the White House who more than likely thinks similarly. The South Koreans are handcuffed by this sort of mindset that breeds anything but confidence in their American ally.
Brutish thugs seem once again to have the upper hand. Inept and bumbling leadership in the West is playing no small part in that.