Pentagon Bolstering South Korea’s Arsenal

So were these the kind of details Robert Gibbs didn’t want to discuss with Jake Tapper the other day? If so, why not? Why would you want to project an image of weakness by talking about the U.N. Security Council, when you could talk about how proactive we’re being and project an image of strength? That doesn’t make any sense. It’s almost as if Obama had nothing to do with this decision at all (which I don’t know if that’s the case), and just told Gibbs to give the standard “we’re concerned” answer. You know Obama, wouldn’t want to ruffle too many feathers.

From Wired Magazine’s “Danger Room”:

While North Korea strikes an increasingly belligerent pose, the South Korean government is planning a serious military upgrade — with some help from Washington.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency — the Pentagon arm that manages foreign military sales — made public plans to sell the South Koreans more surface-to-air missiles and upgrade its F-16 fighters so they can drop Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) smart bombs.

The proposed upgrade of 35 F-16s, the agency said, would allow the Republic of Korea Air Force “to adequately operate the F-16 weapon system to its fullest and utmost capability in both a deterrent role and a coalition role with United States Forces Korea and the Combined Forces Command.”

In other words, it will allow South Korean F-16s to hit artillery and anti-aircraft systems that are often hidden in bunkers and caves north of the DMZ. South Korea’s fleet of F-15Ks (pictured here) already have a precision strike capability; upgrading F-16s would allow the Republic of Korea Air Force to take on more “hardened facilities” in North Korea.

DSCA notified Congress of the pending arms sale late last week, before North Korea’s test of a nuclear weapon; the planned sales are part of an existing South Korean defense modernization program conceived before the current crisis. Recent events, however, may spur an expansion of that defense package. The Korea Times reported yesterday that South Korea’s defense ministry is now planning to increase its stock of JDAMs and air-launched cruise missiles.

Along with the fighter upgrade, DSCA also announced the pending sale of Standard Missile-2 Block IIIA and Block IIIB missiles. Those missiles are already in South Korea’s inventory, but will boost the country’s offshore defenses.


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