It is often argued that Japan risks becoming a target for North Korean missiles and therefore will be forced to go to war and respond to the blow with a blow. In general, this opinion seems logical, if not for one feature of the Land of the Rising Sun. According to its constitution, Japan cannot have armed forces. The document explicitly states: "The right to conduct a state of war is not recognized." Currently, Japan has only so-called. Self-defense forces, which are actually a small professional army, limited in capabilities, weapons and military equipment. The specific appearance and original nuances of the legislation are unlikely to allow the Japanese Self-Defense Forces to take part in the war. Nevertheless, consider that Japan can oppose the aggressors.
The Japanese Self-Defense Forces are one of the smallest formations in East Asia. They serve only 250 thousand people and almost 60 thousand are in reserve. Most (about 150 thousand) serve in the land self-defense forces, which also cannot be called massive. So, Japanese land forces have no more than a thousand tanks several types of own production, as well as about the same number of armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, etc. Separately, it is worth noting about 1800 Komatsu LAV armored cars, which entered service in recent years.
The Japanese artillery contains no more than 1900 weapons of all classes, including MLRS and self-propelled artillery. It is noteworthy that the caliber of all systems does not exceed 155 millimeters, and the most widespread types of artillery systems are towed mortars, which is an indirect consequence of the defense doctrine of Japan. Also in this context, it should be noted a relatively small number of anti-tank guided missile systems - up to 700 units of all types.
The defensive nature of the armed forces is also emphasized by the relatively large number of anti-aircraft systems. The airspace of Japan is protected by 750-800 rocket and cannon complexes of seven types of their own and co-production.
Fighting aviation Self-Defense Air Force is equipped with a relatively small number of aircraft. Currently, Japan has approximately three hundred combat aircraft of three types. It should be noted that the old American McDonnel Douglas F-4 Phantom II fighter-bombers are now actively decommissioned, and Mitsubishi F-2 aircraft of joint US-Japanese development exist in the amount of only 60-65 units. 12 cars were lost during the tsunami in the spring of 2011, due to which the main combat aircraft of the air defense forces remain the F-15, assembled in the United States and Japan. The long-range radar detection and control functions in the Japanese air defense forces are assigned to 15-17 aircraft Boeing E-767 and Grumman E-2 Hawkeye.
In addition to aircraft, there are no more than 80-85 Bell AH-1S Cobra and McDonnell Douglas AH-64В Apache attack helicopters in Japan. An interesting fact is that these machines are assigned to the ground forces of self-defense.
Japan has powerful self-defense forces for its region, capable of performing a wide range of tasks. The largest Japanese ships are helicopter destroyers of the "Hyuga" type. Two such ships can carry multi-purpose helicopters on 11 and are armed with anti-aircraft and anti-submarine missiles. Despite the official classification, the Hyuga ships are in fact light aircraft carriers. In addition to these destroyers, helicopter carriers in the sea self-defense forces, there are two other large ships - destroyers of the project "Sirane". These are surface ships adapted for anti-submarine missions and at the same time capable of carrying three helicopters at once and ensuring their operation.
It is worth noting that destroyers are the most massive class of ships in the Japanese naval self-defense forces. In addition to those mentioned above, the 44 of such ships carrying artillery, torpedo and rocket armament is also in the ranks. It is worth noting that some of these destroyers in some sources are called frigates and corvettes. The patrol boats (six units) and tank landing ships (three ships of the Osumi project) became much less popular.
In the underwater navy Japanese naval self-defense forces have only non-nuclear submarines. These are 11 Oyashio-class submarines and four Soryu boats. All of them are armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles UGM-84 Harpoon. A characteristic feature of Soryu boats is a power plant based on the Stirling engine, which can significantly increase combat capabilities.
Another neighbor of North and South Korea is the People’s Republic of China. This country maintains friendly relations with the DPRK and cooperates with it, including in the military-technical field. The mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries sometimes causes various speculations about the entry of China into the war on the side of North Korea. It is worth noting that the likelihood of such a development is not too great. In addition, even if the PRC stands up for the DPRK, far from all the People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA) will take part in the war. For this reason, it is difficult to accurately assess the prospects of China in such a conflict, so you have to make an impression on the basis of common figures.
In the event of a conflict, units of only two of the six military districts: Shenyang and Beijing will probably participate in it. There is every reason to assume that for effective combat work only the troops of the Shenyang district, which directly borders the Korean Peninsula, will be sufficient. The number of troops in these districts can be represented on the basis of information on Air Force bases. Of the approximately 150 bases, 29 is located in Shenyang and 18 in Beijing. Similarly, due to the political situation in the region, the bases of other types of troops, with the exception of naval forces, are also distributed.
Chinese armed forces are the most numerous in the world. Currently there are about 2,2 million people serving in them. If necessary, several more millions or even tens of millions can be mobilized. It is clear that in the event of a local conflict on the Korean Peninsula, only a small part of the PLA will participate in the hostilities and additional mobilization will not be needed.
According to various estimates, the Chinese army has about six thousand tanks of several models, including the newest "Type 99". Along with the new tanks, a number of old ones serve in the military, for example, the “Type 59”, which is the Chinese version of the Soviet T-55. The total number of armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles is estimated at 7,5-8 thousand units. As in the case of tanks, the soldiers of the Chinese army can use both new equipment and the old, whose age is several decades.
In the artillery units of the PLA there are at least 10-11 thousands of guns, mortars, multiple rocket launchers, etc. The Chinese army is armed with several dozen different artillery systems, including self-propelled ones, of caliber up to 203 (howitzers) or 300 millimeters (MLRS). The exact distribution of artillery in the regions of China is classified, but there is every reason to assume that at least two or three thousand guns reside in the eastern regions close to the Korean Peninsula.
With anti-aircraft systems there is the same situation as with artillery. In service is a few dozen cannon and missile systems for various purposes. According to available data, an integrated air defense system has been created in China, which uses both short-range cannon systems and long-range missile systems. Troops on the march and in positions are also covered by several air defense systems simultaneously.
To protect against enemy tanks and armored vehicles, ground units of the PLA are equipped with several types of anti-tank missile systems and grenade launchers. The age of the available anti-tank weapons varies considerably: there are copies of Soviet RPG-7 grenade launchers or upgraded versions of the Malyutka anti-tank missile systems and their own designs of recent years. The total number of anti-tank weapons was not announced. According to various estimates, the troops have no more than two or three thousand missile systems with guided munitions and much more significant amounts of anti-tank grenade launchers.
Separately, it is necessary to mention the so-called 2-i artillery corps. This unit, despite its name, is responsible for the duty and use of ballistic missiles. The 2 corps has ballistic missiles of all classes: intercontinental, short and medium range. The exact number of missiles was not called, but from fragmentary data it follows that a total of at least one and a half thousand missiles of all classes are on duty. The most popular are short-range missiles, such as the DF-11 or DF-15. The number of strategic missiles deployed is estimated at 70-80 units. Most of China’s existing ballistic missiles can carry a nuclear warhead.
Among Asian countries, China also stands out for its air force. The total number of combat aircraft in the Chinese Air Force exceeds one and a half thousand. The most popular (over 1300) are fighters and fighter-bombers. These are eight types of aircraft purchased abroad and self-produced aircraft. It is worth noting that Soviet and Russian developments had a great influence on the Chinese aviation industry. Moreover, one of the most common aircraft in the Chinese Air Force - Chengdu J-7 and Shenyang J-11 - are replicas of the Soviet / Russian MiG-21 and Su-27 fighters, respectively.
For attacking enemy targets near the front in the Chinese air force there are about a hundred combat helicopters Harbin WZ-9 and CAIC WZ-10. The overall coordination of aviation is assigned to five KJ-2000 long-range radar detection and control airplanes, manufactured on the basis of the Russian Il-76 transport workers.
China's naval forces are leading in terms of quantitative and qualitative composition among the naval forces of the region. Therefore, it can be assumed that only one operational-strategic alliance of the Chinese Navy will participate in the hypothetical war of the two Koreas - the North Sea Fleet, whose responsibilities include control of the Yellow Sea and the surrounding areas of the Pacific Ocean.
Three destroyers, four frigates and several dozen patrol ships and boats serve in the bases of the North Sea Fleet. It is also necessary to mention five strategic nuclear submarines with intercontinental ballistic missiles on board. Finally, according to various estimates, 15-20 diesel-electric submarines serve on the Yellow Sea. Exact data on their number is not available. In terms of numbers, the North Sea Fleet is not the largest in the Chinese Navy and noticeably lags behind the Eastern Sea Fleet. Nevertheless, its capabilities are sufficient to effectively combat South Korean or Japanese ship groups.
If necessary, the ships of the North Sea Fleet may receive support from other operational-strategic alliances, for example, from the Eastern Sea Fleet. Among other things, the latter is able to support Chinese troops with seven tank landing ships of the 072 Type project, which may be useful when landing on the coast of the enemy. The South Sea Fleet has even more amphibious capabilities, which has 11 tanks and two new 071 Type amphibious assault ships. The fleets of the East and South Seas, if necessary, can also send their destroyers, frigates and submarines of various types.
The last likely participant in a possible war is the United States of America. Despite its geographical position, this country has its own interests in East Asia and is unlikely to allow anyone to “divide” this region. The United States is actively cooperating in the military-technical sphere with South Korea and Japan, which is why, in particular, it is believed that they will take part in a hypothetical armed conflict. The United States now has at least one of the most powerful armies in the world, but it is clear that only some of the units based in a relatively short distance from the Korean Peninsula will be involved in a possible conflict.
First of all, it is the US Pacific Fleet and its carrier strike groups (AUG). The closest to the Korean Peninsula is the 5-I AUG of the 7-th operational fleet. Its home port is an American base in the Japanese city of Yokosuka. Four more American AUGs belong to the bases located on the east coast of the country itself. If necessary, any of them can go to the Korean Peninsula and begin to perform combat missions.
The centerpiece of each AUG is the Nimitz type aircraft carrier. In the case of the 5 group, this is the USS George Washington (CVN-73) with the 5-m wing. The cover of the “George Washington” and the aircraft from enemy ships and submarines is carried out by the 15-I destroyer squadron, which currently includes seven ships of the type Arleigh Burke. Thus, one aircraft carrier with 90 aircraft and helicopters of various types and seven destroyers is based in close proximity to a potential theater of military operations. If necessary, the 5-I AUG can be reinforced by submarines or other warships. In addition, according to the situation, other similar compounds may join this carrier strike group.
In the context of a possible war, the North Korean strike on American bases on the island of Guam is often mentioned. Soldiers of these facilities can also take part in a hypothetical conflict. Three multipurpose Los Angeles-class submarines, the USS Frank Cable submarines (AS-40) and several auxiliary vessels serve the Guam naval base. When appropriate, the base on Guam is able to ensure the operation of other ships of the US Navy.
On the island of Guam is also located Andersen Air Base. As part of the 36 th wing, located on it, there are strategic bombers Boeing B-52 Stratofortress and Northrop B-2 Spirit. The range of these aircraft allows you to attack targets not only in North Korea, but also in more remote regions. The nomenclature of weapons of these bombers is such that they are able to perform some combat missions without entering the enemy’s air defense system. In addition, it is argued that the B-2 aircraft themselves are a very difficult goal for the enemy's anti-aircraft systems. It is probably for this reason that by the end of January-month, when the situation on the Korean Peninsula was only beginning to worsen, the US command transferred two B-2 bomber to the Andersen base.
At a smaller distance from the Korean Peninsula, on the Japanese island of Okinawa, is located the American air base Kadena. It serves several squadrons of McDonnel Douglas F-15 Eagle fighter-bomber, Boeing E-3 Sentry long-range radar detection aircraft, Boeing KC-Stratotanker air tankers and helicopters of various types. Also in Okinawa is the base of the Marine Corps of Futenma. It serves as a location for the 1-second marines air wing and about four thousand marines. The main strike force of the 1 th wing is McDonnel Douglas F / A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier II fighter-bombers. In recent years, the United States and Japan are considering the possible transfer of the Futenma base to another location, but have not yet decided where it will move.
In the event that the United States enters the war, the first soldiers who will be able to step onto North Korean territory will be the soldiers of the 2 Infantry Division bearing the name "Indianhead." The total number of personnel of this division is 17 thousand, but not all of them serve in South Korea. Only a few brigades from this unit are stationed on its territory, near the town of Tonduchon in the north of the country. This is the 1st Brigade Combat Team, which is armed with tanks and armored vehicles designed to transport personnel; Combat Aviation Brigade, armed with helicopters, including AH-64D Apache; as well as artillery 210th Fires Brigade. In fact, the 2 Infantry Division is a small, but well-equipped ground forces and therefore capable of performing a wide range of tasks even at a distance from the United States.
When considering the Self-Defense Forces of Japan, it can be noted that their combat potential exceeds the capabilities of the DPRK or South Korea. The directional development by Japan of its armed formations had a corresponding impact on them. It should not be forgotten that, according to the constitution of Japan, this country cannot participate in wars. How official Tokyo will behave in the event of a conflict begins is still a mystery. Perhaps he will retain neutrality, but one cannot exclude the possibility that participation in a war will be legally registered as an assistance to a peacekeeping operation, and this does not contradict the legislation of the country. In case of direct participation in the conflict of Japan on the side of South Korea, the DPRK's chances of winning, at least, are significantly reduced.
The military power of China and the United States far exceeds all the available capabilities of the DPRK, South Korea and Japan combined. In fact, these countries do not have to send a large number of their troops, since the course of the war can be changed by several divisions or brigades. At the same time, the US and China will not bring the matter to open confrontation with each other. Such large countries should not fight each other, since such a conflict may have too serious consequences. Therefore, the most that can be expected is the support of the parties, like it was during the years of the Korean or Vietnamese war.
In general, the approximate course of the war between North and South Korea can go several ways:
- North Korea and South Korea are fighting themselves, without outside intervention. In this case, the troops of both countries will suffer serious losses in manpower and equipment, the front line will constantly shift in both directions, and of all the consequences of the war, only death of a large number of people, destruction and economic losses can be predicted guaranteed;
- China is on the side of the DPRK. In this case, the troops of South Korea will fall into a very difficult position, since they will have to fight with considerably superior forces. It is likely that the coalitions of the DPRK and the PRC will succeed in reaching not only Seoul, but also the central or southern provinces of South Korea. Under any circumstances, China’s entry into the war will have fatal consequences for South Korea. In addition, the attempt of Seoul to strike at important facilities of North Korea or China cannot be ruled out, because of which all three belligerent countries will suffer heavy losses;
- The United States and / or Japan take the side of South Korea. This scenario completely repeats the previous one, but with the difference that the North Korean troops will be defeated. In the light of the latest ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons this development seems risky for the South Korean and American sides;
- Both Koreas receive wide support from their allies. It is difficult to talk about specific events in this case, but there is every reason to assume that such a war would be like a conflict of the early fifties. In the end, regardless of who wins, both North and South Korea will suffer significant losses, as well as lose many important military and civilian infrastructure.
As we see, all four scenarios will have more than unpleasant consequences for both countries of the Korean Peninsula. It has to be admitted that there is a fifth scenario, in which the losses of the parties will be insignificant and will be of an exclusively political nature. If Seoul and Pyongyang do not need thousands of deaths and numerous destruction, then they should calm down and stop escalating the situation. The events of recent days show that the situation on the peninsula is gradually stabilizing and the probability of war decreases all the time. However, the tension of the situation, similar to recent events, does not occur for the first and seemingly not the last time. The next aggravation can end not with angry statements, but with the most real war. Are the political ambitions of Kim Jong-un and Pak Geun-hye worth of victims and destruction? This question can only answer the leaders of the two Koreas.
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