SEOUL, South Korea — The South Korean military has developed its own artillery-locating radar system to help counter North Korea's long-range artillery deployed along the Demilitarized Zone separating the two countries.

The mobile fire-finder radar is to be deployed in the field next year, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, or DAPA, said Monday.

"During last trials, the counter-artillery detection radar met all of the required operational capabilities of the armed forces," DAPA said in a statement. "Now the weapons system is fit for combat use."

The radar was co-developed by the state-funded Agency for Defense Development and LIG Nex1, an electronics weapons maker, after six years of research and development. About 54 billion won (U.S. $48 million) was spent to develop the homemade counter-artillery radar, the statement said.

"With the successful development of the Korean-version counter-battery radar, our military has secured capabilities to immediately destroy enemy’s artillery provocation," said Army Col. Kim Dong-ho of DAPA’s counter-artillery weapons systems bureau.

If the North fires cannons and rockets toward the South, the new radar will be able to detect the artillery projectiles and identify from where the shells were fired, Kim noted, adding that the information will immediately be sent to Army units to support counterattacks.

"The new radar’s detection range is about 60 kilometers, which is further away from the existing ARTHUR-K radar with the range of 40 kilometers," he said.

He also said the new radar can operate for about eight hours in a row — two more hours than the ARTHUR-K, which LIG Nex1 produced under a license agreement with Sweden’s Saab.

The South Korean Army operates about 20 ARTHUR-K radars and a dozen AN/TPQ-36/37 fire-finder radars that were introduced in the early 1990s.

While North Korea’s massive forces are, for the most part, primitively equipped, Pyongyang possesses the capacity to launch a catastrophic artillery strike on the South Korean capital of Seoul.

Most of the artillery equipment is already in place, camouflaged and dug in. The communist state’s artillery systems include the 170mm Koksan, which has a range of about 250 miles. Some estimates indicate the capital city could be hit by more than half a million shells in less than an hour.

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