February 20, 2009: South Korea is buying an Israeli EL/M-2080 phased array Green Pine anti-missile radar. Originally built as part of the Israeli Arrow anti-missile system, Green Pine can detect incoming ballistic missiles up to 500 kilometers away. An improved version, Super Pine, has a range of 800 kilometers. South Korea is paying $215 million for its Green Pine, and will receive the radar by 2012.
The Super Pine version doubles the power of the basic Green Pine AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar. AESA consists of thousands of tiny radars that can be independently aimed in different directions. This makes it possible, for a sufficiently powerful AESA radar, to focus enough energy to damage aircraft or missiles. The U.S. has already been doing this with the high-powered microwave (HPM) effects generated by in AESA radars used in F-14, F-35 and F-22 aircraft.
AESA type radars have been around a long time, popular mainly for their ability deal with lots of targets simultaneously. But AESA is also able to focus a concentrated beam of radio energy that could scramble electronic components of a distant target. Sort of like the EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) put out by nuclear weapons. AESA has demonstrated that it can disable missiles and aircraft. Ballistic missiles are another story, as they are sturdier (to handle re-entry stress) and have fewer electronics to mess with. Israel is believed to be working on making its more powerful Green Pine radar capable to zapping rockets, shells and aircraft. South Korea may look into using Super Pine for taking down shorter range North Korean rockets and missiles.