Friday, May 29, 2009

Nork Artillery Capabilities

This is really a tie in to HappyCrow on the possiblity of a Nork (North Korean) invasion of the south. Rather than bury his blog, I figured to focus on the FA side of the house. Reason: the Norks have a HUGE amount of it and its one of their only strengths, sort of.

First off, the Norks have honest to God Artillery ARMIES. No, I am not making that up. Whole armies that are nothing but artillery. Based on the Soviet model, designed to support old Soviet-style mass warfare. They have lots of towed stuff (D 30 type howitzers), lots of BM series rocket and missile launchers (think MLRS on a truck with 1970's tech), some SP stuff for the armored units (1960s level tech) and some interesting homemade stuff (the Kokson Gun, a huge cannon with a 45 km range). Most of this is dug in along the DMZ or in caves near firing emplacements that are pre-sited and surveyed. Just add launcher or gun and fire away. Their power lies in the MASS of artillery. It is effective because they have lots of it. To quote a friend in 1995, "NK has more artillery than God. And God has a lot of artillery." Also, Russian built FA is longer ranged than some American and ROK artillery. The BM Rocket systems have a 40 Km range which outdistances any of our tube artillery and until the advent of GMLRS, outranged some of our MLRS. The D30 howitzer outranged all of our 105mm howitzers and some of their larger stuff could outrange our M109s.

Issues with this. First, the stuff they have is OLD. Nothing new since the late 80's and even then it was older stuff from China or Russia. They have no precision weapons like the US or SK, so it mass fire (aka, we will hit it because we are firing so much stuff something is bound to hit). Their ammo supply is also old and they have a major problem storing it so it doesn't rot or ruin (A/C is a major thing to have in Korea due to the humidity which will wreck ammo unless its stored correctly). All their firing sites are known and targeted by the US/ROK, and our stuff is a guarrented hit thanks to lasers or GPS smart munitions. Many of the homemade systems (the Kokson Guns are notorious for this) are not designed for sustained fire and will burst or break after a short (8 hours or less) amount of sustained fire. Their ADA and air force are laughable so any system that is out in the open (aka every FA system) will be hit by air power shortly after fighting starts. Most of this stuff in not mobile, should the fighting move south (not bloody likely) or north (getting much more likely every day) these systems will be out of range or overrun.

These systems will likely cause heavy initial damage, but will not last long in a sustained fight. The US caught a major clue in the late 90s and relooked how it planned to fight in the ROK. Most US bases are in the south or are moving south, out of range of both FA and commandos. The chances of them being taken out early (which is critical to the Norks plans) are rapidly decreasing. Also, the remaining US forces in the ROK are set up to really fight here. We have lots of artillery, ADA and guys armed with smart, man-portable weapons that can smash up the mobs of Nork armor and stationary artillery. The ROK Army's FA has gotten very modern so it is more than able to knock the Norks around. Aside from our precision munitions have come range increases that give us the advantage in both range and accuracy. 6 US shots are 6 hits, 6 Nork shots are maybe 1 hit, odds like that rapidly cut down the numbers advantage. This area is one place that Rumsfeld actually fixed up in a better way. Were we to fight here, it would be the last of the old Cold War era fights in both participants and doctrine.

Too bad for the Norks we have moved on in equipment and thinking.

The real threat is if the Norks can utilize this FA for chemical or biological attacks. Cannon or rocket delivered nukes are beyond their tech level. Biological is a bit too frightening for anyone and also very complicated. Chem they could do, but the backlash would be bad. Not world condemnation (they could care) but the "gloves off" that would result.

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