Korea Orders Indigenous Long-range Air Defense Radars

 - February 9, 2021, 12:36 PM
The new radar design employs gallium nitride technology in its rotating antenna array. (Image: LIG Nex1)

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) will spend KRW46 billion ($41 million) to develop a new series of long-range air defense radars, to be developed by LIG Nex1. The system is expected to enter service by 2027, and is aimed to cover the Korean air defense identification zone (KADIZ). 

Korean media has quoted DAPA as saying that the need to speed up radar development was spurred by Russian and Chinese aircraft incursion in more than 150 instances between October 2018 and September 2020. The new radar will replace older U.S.-made systems, in this case the Lockheed Martin TPY-77. DAPA also said that the current program will pick up from an earlier plan to develop an indigenous long-range radar that was abandoned in 2017 due to a lack of the requisite technology. 

Currently in the LIG Nex1 portfolio is a Long Range Radar that strongly resembles the TPS-77, but features gallium nitride cells and terrain capabilities customized for the mountainous Korean geography. While the technical specification of the new radar is unclear, it is expected that the range will exceed the 470km (254nm) of the TPS-77. The company has also successfully developed and placed into operation a multi-function radar that is paired with the KM-SAM medium-range surface-to-air missile. 

In addition to the TPS-77, Korea also fields a pair of Israeli Aerospace Industry ELM-2080 Green Pine radar systems, used in conjunction with its MIM-104 PAC-2 Patriot surface-to-air missiles, all part of the Korean ballistic missile defense system. A second batch of two extended range 'Block-C' variants was acquired in 2018, worth around KRW330 billion ($292 million).