South Korea beefs up mil­i­tary mus­cle while pre­par­ing for peace

SEOUL IS PUR­SU­ING A PEACE TRACK WITH NORTH KOREA WHILE TRY­ING TO CRE­ATE A FORCE ABLE TO FIGHT WITH MIN­I­MAL OUT­SIDE HELP

The Nation - - THE WALL STREET JOURNAL - AN­DREW JEONG

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and an­a­lysts say these steps are aimed at boost­ing the US- Ja­pan mil­i­tary al­liance, not re­plac­ing it. Ja­pan wants to show that with ex­tra hard­ware and more per­son­nel trained in am­phibi­ous war­fare, it can work closely with the US Navy and Air Force in com­bat­ing re­gional threats. “Ja­pan is build­ing up its de­fence ca­pa­bil­ity to keep the US forces in Ja­pan,” said Toshiyuki Ito, a re­tired vice ad­mi­ral in Ja­pan’s navy who is a pro­fes­sor at Kanazawa In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy.

Back in Seoul, the gov­ern­ment has looked into ac­quir­ing nu­clear sub­marines to counter North Korea’s sub­ma­rine-launched bal­lis­tic-mis­sile pro­gram, re­cently hir­ing Shin of the Korea De­fence Net­work to in­ves­ti­gate the fea­si­bil­ity. The coun­try has about 10 diesel sub­marines, ac­cord­ing to a de­fence white pa­per, which can stay un­der­wa­ter for about two weeks, com­pared with nu­clear subs that can re­main sub­merged for months.

South Korea’s navy has also shown in­ter­est in ac­quir­ing a light car­rier, a ship that would be crit­i­cal to de­fend­ing mar­itime trade routes, said Kim Jin- hyung, a re­tired South Korean rear ad­mi­ral. A De­fence Min­istry spokes­woman con­firmed the navy’s in­ter­est, but said Seoul didn’t have of­fi­cial plans for such a pur­chase at the mo­ment.

South Korea is re­plac­ing its age­ing fleet of F-4 and F-5 fight­ers with Lock­heed Martin F-35As – stealth air­craft ca­pa­ble of hit­ting strate­gic un­der­ground tar­gets. Left: A US Air Force F-16 Fight­ing Fal­con, right, and F-35A fighter jets taxi at Kun­san...

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