May 26, 2012:
A South Korean firm (LIG Nex1) has developed a long range (400 kilometer) military radar. With four of these South Korea can spot any North Korean aircraft or missiles coming at them via land or sea routes. LIG Nex1 is also developing a version of this radar that can spot incoming ballistic missiles.
Apparently this was done with technical help from Israel. Three years ago South Korea bought 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 paid $215 million for its Green Pine and is receiving the radars this year.
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. LIG Nex1 is also developing smaller AESA radars for jet fighters, again in cooperation with Israeli partners.
AESA type radars have been around a long time, popular mainly for their ability to 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 of zapping rockets, shells, and aircraft. South Korea may look into using Super Pine for taking down shorter range North Korean rockets and missiles. But for the moment South Korea is primarily interested in long range radars for early warning.