Have you ever played a computer game called ‘Starcraft’? If so, you must be aware of the importance of a unit named, ‘observer’. Then you can imagine how important it would be in modern strategies, to have a safe and precise surveillance system. Surprisingly enough, there are these aircraft like an observer, although they cannot cloak themselves like their little friend does. And they’re called AWACS, which stands for ‘Airborne Warning and Control System’.
They are made by reforming civil aircrafts like Boeing737. Adding radar system and building a network between radar bases on the ground, these airplanes can perform an air surveillance task. To fly for a long time, they’re usually non-armed, so by flying higher than any other fighters they can less the threat of shooting down. Having AWACS brings some strategical advantage to South Korea over the North. In fact Korea possesses four AWACS now and plans to increase the number to 6 until 2016.
To begin with, this expands the coverage range of radar in Korea. Although our country runs a lot of radars, there always are missing holes, because of maintaining or black-out problems. Therefore an AWACS can be used to fill this crack. Also, depend on the region they’re flying, this coverage can be widened up to half of North Korea or even more. This means that South Korea can earn more time to prepare for action against the enemy flights.
Also, it can not only enlarge the coverage, but also reinforce it. Because 70% of Korean peninsular is consisted of mountains, it is hard to find an aircraft under certain altitude, especially when this plane is flying in a valley. That’s because ground radars have minimum altitude, limiting their searching ability. However by surveilling up in the sky, this weakness is overcome. Thanks to this feature Republic or Korea can stay much safer.
Last but not least, the AWACS is a headquarter when practicing an air campaign. It provides instant yet precise situational analyses and tells apart the allies from the enemies, it can swiftly order allies to take appropriate actions they need. In reality the AWACS that South Korea has played this important role in a ROK-US combined training operation last year and proved that Korea is capable of this high demanding technique. These features are making AWACSs more indispensable in modern military campaign, especially in Korea which considered as a country of ceasefire.