Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus on the Asian Continent, North Korea has vowed they are not affected by the outbreak. In March, North Korea’s government informed the World Health Organization the country did not have a single case of COVID-19. “Not one single person has been infected with the novel coronavirus in our country so far.” – Pal Myong Su, Director of the North Korea’s Central Emergency Anti-epidemic Department.
With an 880 mile long land border to China and a 95% trade dependency on China of about 90% of imports and one of the world’s worst health care systems in providing for their impoverished population, there is a certainty that the Coronavirus has and is doing massive damage to their populous.
“You know, you’ve seen the public statements by North Korea that they claim that they have no COVID-19 cases. It is a closed-off nation, so we can’t say emphatically that they-they have cases, but we’re fairly certain they do.” – General Robert B. Abrams, Commander of United States Forces-Korea on March 13, 2020.
North Korea’s false bravado to portray to their own people, to the region, and to the United States that they are unaffected and will continue to build up, test up, and show up in intimidation for advantage when the world is suffering, consumed, and engaged with the Coronavirus is pure deception motivated by pure malice.
North Korea continues to deceive the world community by holding mass war exercises and launching a total of nine missiles in March alone over the course of four separate events. First, on March 2, two KN-25 close-range ballistic missiles were launched from Sangum-ri in Kangwon province. Second, on March 8, three KN-25 missiles were launched from Sondok in South Hamgyong province. These were both accompanied by other smaller caliber artillery and multiple launched rocket system (MLRS) launches. On March 20, another round of KN-24 short-range ballistic missile launches took place; these bore resemblance to the U.S. Army’s MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS). Finally, on March 28, two additional KN-25s were launched from the Hodo Peninsula into the East Sea. Most recently yesterday, North Korea topped off last month’s nine launches by firing a barrage of missiles from the ground.
In preparation to be ahead of the continued North Korean growth of missile intimidation, aggression, and ballistic missile increase in capacity and capabilities to the Korean Peninsula, the United States put forward a Joint Emergent Operational Need (JEON) in 2018 to integrate on the Korean Peninsula, all of the United States Patriot batteries, the PAC-3 family of missiles and all the new Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) interceptors with the single Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery and enable its THAAD launchers to be remotely placed far away from the THAAD’s Army/Navy Transportable Radar Surveillance (AN/TPY-2). All of this to gain increased force projection, efficiency, and a layered defense against the North Korea ballistic missile threat. The JEON has cost around $700 million and was originally planned for four phases but was funded and will be completed for three phases by 2021 with the first phase already completed to integrate the two U.S. Army Air Defense foundational pillars of Patriot and THAAD. These two systems were not integrated in organic development as Patriot was first and Army developed and THAAD came in latter and was Missile Defense Agency (MDA) developed. The fourth phase was to integrate the THAAD/Patriot/MSE with the Navy’s Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors that are afloat on Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) ships near and around the Korean Peninsula. This 4th phase should be addressed as it is relevant today more than ever with existing capabilities in deployed THAAD batteries around the world co existing with or without Patriot Batteries and leveraging Navy’s SM-3, SM-2 and SM-6 on MK 41 land-based launchers as well as to Navy Aegis ships in the vicinity. This is cross domain layered missile defense to do both cruise and ballistic missile defense.
Today, two years later with proven testing, MDA is successfully integrating the THAAD battery in Korea to all Patriot batteries in Korea to be more efficient, more effective, more reliable, and gain more defended area. Exceptional leadership for the tenacity of this JEON to get through DOD and Congress comes from former U.S. Forces Korea Commander, General Vincent Brooks and former U.S. 8th Army Commander, Lieutenant General Thomas Vandal who had the vision and grit to get it done. Great respect to MDA and its team for the technical prowess and rapid development to make this JEON real.
Phase 1) THAAD Launchers are now able to remote from extended distances for tremendously increased battle space
Phase 2) THAAD Radar data now enables MSE, PAC 3, GEMT Missiles to Launch on Remote from Patriot Batteries
Phase 3) MSE missile and launchers are being effectively integrated into the THAAD to Increase THAAD firepower and effectively enable MSE to be employed to its full kinematic capabilities which is limited with the Patriot radar
The JEON is real and protecting the Republic of Korea’s population and the U.S. forward based troops on the Peninsula through the Coronavirus pandemic and shattering the deceptions of North Korea.
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