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Border island to get Apache choppers

June 12, 2011 - 19:16 By Song Sangho
South Korea is considering deploying large attack helicopters on one of its western sea border islands in preparation against surprise infiltrations of North Korea’s air-cushioned vessels, a defense source said Sunday.

“A helicopter hangar under construction on Baengnyeong Island is capable of accommodating large-sized attack helicopters. Some Apache-class attack helicopters to be imported next year will be deployed on the border island in the long term,” said the source, asking for anonymity.

The military is scheduled to introduce 36 Apache-class attack helicopters around October next year in response to the growing possibility of surprise attacks by the North’s special commandos.

“North Korea has completed the construction of a new sprawling naval base on Goampo of Hwanghae Province. The North’s new naval base appears to be far bigger than previously expected and capable of accommodating about 60 air-cushioned vessels,” said the defense source.

The North’s Goampo base is about 50 kilometers from the northernmost South Korean island of Baengnyeong.

“With the completion of the Goampo naval base, the possibility of the North’s surprise naval attacks has further heightened, raising the need to arm Baengnyeong Island with advanced attack helicopters,” the source said.

He noted that the helicopter hangar on Baengnyeong Island, located just west of Yeonpyeong Island, which was shelled by the North’s artillery last November, will be completed by the year’s end.

The western sea border has been a constant source of military tension between the two Koreas. Tension in the area has risen further after the North sank a South Korean warship near Baengnyeong Island in March last year and bombarded Yeonpyeong Island. 

(Yonhap News)