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
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...