Updated July. 13, 2011 06:49
The South Korean military will deploy 10 more cutting-edge PKG-class vessels to safeguard the Northern Limit Line, the de facto inter-Korean sea border, and the islets off the northwest coast.
A military source said Tuesday that the original plan was to introduce 24 PKG-class vessels by spending 2.4 trillion won (2.25 U.S. billion dollars) by 2016 to replace the Navys aging Chamsuri-class PKMs and to reinforce the deterrence capability in the five islands off the west coast. The revised plan, however, will involve buying 10 more vessels.
The decision was based on the South Korean military`s belief that North Koreas military threat to the five islands is growing as shown by the North`s completion of a military base that can accommodate some 70 hovercraft in the North`s Hwanghae Province, only 50 kilometers away from Baengnyeong Island of South Korea located in the far north off the west coast.
In other words, PKG-class vessels, though smaller than destroyers or patrol vessels, are most appropriate because they are equipped with speed and firepower.
The source said, PKGs are useful because they can effectively target small vessels such as patrol boats, torpedo boats and guided missile boats deployed by the North in the west coast from a long distance.
The plan also implies that the military intends to prevent a military power vacuum as given the wear and tear on Chamsuri-class high-speed boats that are 20 years or older.
Seven PKGs have been built and the first through sixth vessels bear the names of six seamen who were killed in the second battle of Yeonpyeong Island in June 2002, including Lt. Commander Yoon Yeong-ha.