Air Defense: South Korea Makes Life Difficult For Northern Commandos


July 23, 2013: South Korea has sent some of its K30 Biho twin-30mm self-propelled anti-aircraft gun systems to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone, the border with the south). Some 70 percent of North Korean ground forces are within a hundred kilometers of the DMZ, and the K30 is meant to help deal with the large number of helicopters and low-flying aircraft North Korea apparently plans to use to get commandos and special agents across the border in the event of a war.

The main threats are 80 American MD-500D, smuggled in from Germany in the 1980s, and three-hundred AN-2 single engine bi-plane transports. The AN-2 is a sturdy Russian aircraft which, although designed in the 1940s, is simple, rugged, popular, and remained in production until a decade ago. Able to carry ten passengers, the North Korean AN-2s have been seen practicing flying low and at night. Since each AN-2 can carry ten soldiers, it is believed they are meant to deliver commandos into South Korea early on in a war. Several thousand of these troops could cause a lot of confusion as South Korea mobilized for war. The K30s are apparently being placed at areas the AN-2s and helicopters are likely to use in the event of a war or simply some more military mischief from the north.

The 25 ton K30 is built on the chassis of the K200 armored personnel carrier. A platoon of four K30s works in conjunction with a truck mounted radar that can see out to seventeen kilometers. That’s more than enough to see across the four kilometer wide DMZ. Each K30 has shorter range optical and heat sensors that can pick up targets up to seven kilometers out. The twin 30mm cannon can hit targets up to three kilometers up and four kilometers out. Each K30 has enough ammo to take down about a dozen helicopters or AN-2 before it has to reload. Since each K30 platoon is completely mobile, it can be constantly moved to confuse the North Koreans and give them something else to worry about if they think of flying low and slow across the DMZ.

The K30 was introduced in the late 1990s, to provide armored units with anti-aircraft protection while moving around. These days the South Korean air force has such a large edge over the antiquated and poorly trained North Korean air force that the threat of air attacks against South Korean armor units is much less. A total of a hundred and seventy six K30s have been built so far.


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