South Korea “strengthening C-UAS capabilities” after North Korean drone incursions

South Korea is unprepared for drone operations by North Korea, according to leaked documents which are part of the “Discord” series of Pentagon paper leaks, according to articles in The Washington Post and the International Business Times.

According to the Post:

“An incursion of South Korean airspace by North Korean drones exposed Seoul’s lack of preparedness in defending against such threats, and it will likely take years for the military to correct its shortcomings, according to a classified U.S. intelligence assessment of the December incident.…The findings, outlined in a leak of U.S. secrets circulated on the Discord messaging platform and obtained by The Washington Post, spotlight the vulnerable state of South Korea’s air defense as its volatile neighbor’s aggressive development of a nuclear arsenal has Seoul and Washington on edge.

“South Korea has prioritized its defenses to confront incoming missiles while investing heavily in growing its air and naval forces, but Seoul’s focus has come at the cost of neglecting other air defense needs, experts said — leaving the country vulnerable to a threat responsible for extensive carnage in Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere.

“Five North Korean drones flew deep into South Korea on Dec. 26, including one that pierced the no-fly zone around Seoul’s presidential office. The military scrambled fighter jets and helicopters in response but failed to shoot any of them down; some of them disappeared from radar screens as they were being tracked, military officials said. The incident prompted political fallout for South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who blamed the lack of preparedness on his predecessor and said he’d rush to activate a specialized anti-drone unit later this year.”

In February South Korea announced a strengthening of its counter-UAS capabilities. According to a February 2023 report in The Korea Herald:

“The meeting of the 16th National Counter Terrorism Committee, convened by Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, approved the government’s plan of deploying the anti-drone system to key facilities, including oil refineries and power plants, in stages of order of importance. The government will also seek to actively support and promote research and development of anti-drone technology and amend related laws and systems to step up South Korea’s readiness against potential drone attacks by terrorists.

“Han called for the country to strengthen anti-drone capabilities and reinforce preparedness against the malicious use of armed-drones by terrorist organizations, explaining that the government sees terrorism will remain a global threat in light of continuing political unrest in some African countries and the expansion of terrorist groups in the Middle East and Southwest Asia.

“In addition, the government decided to establish a new counter-terrorism unit under the auspice of the police in 18 strategically important regions, such as the Ulsan metropolitan city where power plants and oil refineries are stationed. Other regions include the Gangwon Province borders with North Korea, as well as North Chungcheong Province where the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency and Health Technology Administration are based.”

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