In an article I missed on the first go-round from last October, Ankit Panda, senior editor at The Diplomat, detailed a request by the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff to the National Assembly Defense Committee to study the feasibility of a missile defense system to counter North Korean long-range artillery and rocket artillery capabilities.
North Korea has invested heavily in its arsenal of conventional artillery. Other than nuclear weapons, this capability likely poses the greatest threat to South Korean security, particularly given the vulnerability of the capital Seoul, a city of nearly 10 million that lies just 35 miles south of the demilitarized zone.
The artillery defense system the South Korean Joint Chiefs seek to develop is not intended to protect civilian areas, however. It would be designed to shield critical command-and-control and missile defense sites. They already considered and rejected buying Israel’s existing Iron Dome missile defense system as inadequate to the magnitude of the threat.
As Panda pointed out, the challenges are formidable for development an artillery defense system capable of effectively countering North Korean capabilities.
South Korea would need to be confident that it would be able to maintain an acceptable intercept rate against the incoming projectiles—a task that may require a prohibitively large investment in launchers and interceptors. Moreover, the battle management software required for a system like this may prove to be exceptionally complex as well. Existing missile defense systems can already have their systems overwhelmed by multiple targets.
It is likely that there will be broader interest in South Korean progress in this area (Iron Dome is a joint effort by the Israelis and Raytheon). Chinese and Russian long-range precision fires capabilities are bulwarks of the anti-access/area denial strategies the U.S. military is currently attempting to overcome via the Third Offset Strategy and multi-domain battle initiatives.