Military Review

Republic of Korea Armed Forces

Conducting a conversation about the armed forces of the Republic of Korea, it is always necessary to remember the fact that, formally, this state is still at war with its neighbor, North Korea (DPRK). Relations between the two nations sharing the Korean Peninsula have never been friendly. It should be understood that, starting the Korean war of 1950-1953, North Korea very quickly defeated the "young" troops of its southern neighbor. Under the control of the South, 10% of the territory of the country with the city of Busan hardly remained. If it were not for the intervention of the American army and the UN in the conflict, the rout would be complete. In South Korea, they remember this very well and try to do everything possible to learn from the events of the past.

It is long история the aggressor neighbors' attacks and the ongoing confrontation with the DPRK continue to encourage the Republic of Korea to spend huge amounts of money from the budget (up to 15%) to maintain the armed forces and to preserve compulsory military service for men in the country. According to the constitution, all South Korean men are required to serve in the army. In this case, the draft age ranges from 18 to 35 years. In wartime, military service is required for men between the ages of 18 and 45. The length of service for conscription ranges from 21 month (ground forces and marine corps) to 23 months (Naval Forces) and up to 24 months (Air Force).

At the same time, there are no postponement of studies in South Korea, students can be taken to the army directly from the university, and deferment due to illness is also reluctant to be issued. "Mow" in the Republic of Korea is not accepted. In many cases, this is more expensive because it will provide a huge number of problems with employment, especially in large companies and corporations. According to Korean law, for the refusal to serve in the armed forces there is a penalty of imprisonment for a term of 18 months. At the same time, having been released with such a "wolf ticket", you can forget about decent work, career or study in prestigious educational institutions. Another interesting feature is that people who have tattoos on their bodies are exempt from the service. In South Korea, they are still associated with gangsters and bandits and are symbols of shame.

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The South Korean army includes ground forces, naval forces, including the Marine Corps, and the Air Force. Most of the available forces are deployed near the Korean Demilitarized Zone. The supreme commander is the president of the country, the general leadership of the armed forces is exercised by the minister of defense. Strategic planning and operational management of the South Korean armed forces, following the American model, is carried out by the Committee of Chiefs of Staff, which plays the role of the General Staff. There are in the Republic of Korea and the Ministry of Defense, but it is, in fact, a civil organization that is responsible for the budget of the armed forces, personnel issues and supplies. In addition, South Korea has an independent maritime border guard and civil defense units.

By the number of active troops, the army of South Korea is considered the seventh in the world. According to the 2014 year, about 630 thousands of people are serving in the armed forces. The number of reservists, according to various estimates, ranges from 2,97 million to 4,5 million people. In terms of military expenditures, the South Korean army in 2014 occupied 10 in the world’s place with 36,7 billion dollars (data from the Stockholm Peace Research Institute). By the number of soldiers per capita, South Korea ranks second in the world after its northern neighbor, the DPRK.

Of course, the South Korean army is almost twice less than the DPRK army in number, but in terms of its mobilization resources it is not inferior to the northern neighbor. On the Republic of Korea side, there is more than double the population superiority - more than 51 million according to 2015 year, against 24 million from the northern neighbor, the Republic of Korea’s GDP exceeds North Korea’s GDP more than 100 times, and the armed forces, although smaller in number, armed with much more modern models of weapons and military equipment. The economic opportunities of the two Koreas today are simply not comparable.

Parade in Seoul

Over the past 20 years, first-class armed forces have been created in South Korea that are able to successfully withstand the army of almost any state. In almost all respects, the armed forces of this country are today among the ten strongest armies in the world, especially given the very high level of combat training. The armed forces also have a strong rear in the form of a powerful industrial base. Today in production is a huge number of modern types of weapons and military equipment, which is at a very high level of development. This ballistic and cruise missiles "Hyunmu", and Tanks K2, and BMP K21, and self-propelled guns K9, as well as combat training combat aircraft T-50, and warships of various classes. Together with the Russian Federation, the creation of a long-range Korean air defense system is underway.

One of the peculiarities of a possible military conflict with the DPRK, namely North Korea is the most obvious and probable opponent of the South Korean armed forces, is that when the offensive from the north the armed forces of the Republic of Korea simply have nowhere to retreat. The territory of the country is very small, moreover, 10-million Seoul is located near the border. Taking this into account, in the event of a conflict, South Korean soldiers will have to stand to the death on the border, sustaining heavy losses from the fire of North Korean artillery. It should be noted that realizing its technical backwardness, the DPRK is building its strategy on the basis of asymmetric actions and a policy of causing unacceptable damage to the enemy. Along the border deployed about 20 thousands of artillery systems and installations MLRS North Korea, which can get and Seoul. Suppress such a number of artillery guns is not possible purely physically.

South Korea Ground Forces

In the ground forces, the South Korean soldiers serve the most. According to the 2014 year, the number of ground troops is 495 thousand people. At the same time, they are thinking in South Korea to significantly reduce the number of their ground forces. There are plans to reduce the number of divisions from 47 (deployed / reserve) to 28, and the number of military personnel from 495 thousand to 387 thousand people.


Ground forces are divided into central subordinate forces (the Committee of Chiefs of Staff), two field armies (PA) and one operational command (former PA). The forces of central command consist of six commands: missile command; Air Operations Command (two army brigades aviation); Special Operations Command (6 airborne brigades and special forces battalion); Capital Defense Command (two reserve divisions, two territorial defense divisions, communications and chemical defense brigades); Logistic Command and Training Command.

The 1th Field Army consists of three army corps (2, 3, 8), as well as various units of army submission. In total, it consists of 8 infantry and one mechanized division, as well as armored, mechanized, two engineering, three artillery, four brigades of communication and two regiments of special forces.

The 2-e operational command (the former 2-I PA) includes 7 territorial defense divisions, as well as two special forces brigades.

The 3 th Field Army consists of five corps (1, 5, 6, 7 and AK and the capital defense corps), as well as various units of army subordination. In total, this army has 11 infantry (including one reserve) and 5 mechanized divisions, as well as one air defense, three armored, five artillery, five communications and four engineering brigades and four special forces regiments.

Currently, South Korea’s army numbers from 2400 to 2500 tanks, about 2700 various armored combat vehicles, 5800 artillery systems, including more 1900 self-propelled artillery systems, 60 helicopters.

155-mm SAU K9

The basis of the country's tank fleet consists of modern vehicles - MBT K1, which was created under the strong impression of the American tank M1 "Abrams", in fact, is its Korean version. There are about 1027 tanks K1 (similar to the first version of the M1, equipped with 105-mm gun) and 484 tank K1А1 / 2 (which are similar to the significantly improved M1X1 / А2, 120-mm equipment)) In addition, the country has created a promising MBT K2 "Black Panther", in total there are at least 3 of such tanks, in the future 297 of such vehicles should also be obtained. Also in the army, there are still about 880 modernized American tanks M48 Patton of different versions, which are very outdated and up to 33 T-80 tanks (delivered on account of debt) and two T80UC.

In addition, there is quite an impressive arsenal of modern infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers, including up to 70 BMP-3. The base of the park is approximately 1700 own BMP K200 and no less than 125 most advanced KHNUMX, which Koreans themselves consider to be among the best in the world. These BMPs, armed with an 21-mm automatic cannon, are planned to build more than 40 units. In addition, the 460 American BTR M420, the 113 Swedish Bv 300, the 206 own CM-200 (licensed copies of the Italian Fiat-900) and about the 6614 Russian BTR-30 are in service.

At present, the basis of self-propelled artillery of the Armed Forces of South Korea are their own 155-mm ACS K9, which are built around 900 units, in the future there will be more than 1,1 thousands. In addition, there is 1180 155-mm ACS K55A1, which are a copy of the American ACS M109A2. Also plans to get up to 800 ACS EVO-105, which are created by installing the American howitzer М101 on the basis of a truck of all-terrain. The rocket artillery is represented by 156 Korean XMNXX / А136 RSZO caliber 1-mm and 130 US MLRS М60 / А270 1-mm caliber, which can be used as launchers for American ATACMS tactical missiles.


The military air defense system incorporates up to 120 the newest Korean air defense missile systems K-SAM “Chunma”, as well as more than a thousand different MANPADS (manufactured in the USA, France, Great Britain and Russia). In addition, there are up to 700 own ZSU, built on the basis of BMX K200 and about 200 anti-aircraft guns.

Army aviation has up to 90 American attack helicopters AH-1F / J Cobra and up to 500 transport and multi-purpose helicopters of various types.

In response to the active development of the DPRK missile program in Seoul, they also develop their own missile forces. Currently, South Korea’s Army has at least 30 mobile-based tactical missiles “Hyunmu-1” (firing range - 180 km) and up to 100 silo-based missiles (range-2 km). It is assumed that in the future, the weapons of the Republic of Korea will be delivered to the “Hyumou” missiles, the range of which will be already 300-500 km.

South Korean Navy

The Republic of Korea’s naval forces include about 70 people, including 000 in the Marine Corps (as of 29). There are 2015 ships in operation, including 180 submarines, 15 surface combat ships and patrol boats, 130 amphibious vessels, and up to 10 auxiliary vessels. In naval aviation, there are about 20 aircraft and helicopters. The Marine Corps is armed with up to 70 tracked combat systems, including self-propelled guns. The Navy of the Republic of Korea is organizationally divided into three fleet: 1st (East), 2nd (West) and 3rd (South). In addition to the fleets, there is a Combat Command, which includes the 5th flotilla of diverse forces, the 9th flotilla of submarines and a special forces brigade.

South Korea's submarine fleet consists of 15 diesel-electric submarines. Among them, 13 German submarines - 9 project 209 / 1200 and 4 newest project 214 / 1700 (more 5 will be built). In addition, the fleet has two subversive ultra-small submarines of the Dolgorai type.

The strike bones of the fleet surface forces are 12 destroyers - all of their own construction. Among them are 3 destroyers of the Sajon Tevan type, 6 of the Chunmugon Li Sunsin type, 3 of the Kvangetho type. The most sophisticated of these are the Sajon Tevan destroyers, which are also the world's most powerful surface non-avianos warships. These ships have the Aegis system and are equipped with vertical launchers with a wide nomenclature of weapons. All of the missiles on board are on board, except for the Standard (USA) SAM, its own design, although created in collaboration with the US. Most powerful of them weapons are the sea-based cruise missiles "Hyunmu-3" (comparable in characteristics to the "Tomahawk"), having a range of thousands of kilometers in the 1,5. The “Hyunmu-3” missiles formally belong to the same family as the land-based “Hyunmu-1 and“ Hyunmu-2 ”, but only formally. Since the land are ballistic missiles, and sea - cruise.

Sajon Tevan Destroyer

Ulsan type frigates (8 units available) are considered relatively outdated ships. To replace them, Incheon-type frigates are built (3 in the fleet, at least 18 will be built), which will also be armed with the SJLM “Hyunmu-3”. In addition, the fleet has 19 corvettes of the type "Pohang", armed with anti-ship missiles.

South Korean Air Force

In the Air Force of the Republic of Korea, there are about 65 thousands of troops (according to 2014 year data). The Air Force is armed with about 450 combat aircraft, mainly American-made. The country's air force is organizationally divided into 7 commands: Operational; Southern and Northern Combat, two air defense commands; logistic and training.


The most modern combat aircraft in the South Korean Air Force are the X-NUMX F-60K fighters, the X-NUMX multi-purpose F-15C and X-NUMX two-seater F-117D. In addition, there are own-produced X-NUMX lightweight multi-purpose combat aircraft FA-16 (another 51 machine has been ordered), which represent the combat version of the T-16 Golden Eagle jet training aircraft. In addition to them, the Air Force has a substantial number of obsolete American fighter jets - the 20 F-50 Phantom II and the 40 Northrop F-50, while the actual combat capability of these fighters is highly doubtful. Although it does matter what to compare with, because the DPRK air force still has Chinese copies of the Soviet MiG-69 fighter.

The actions of the combat aviation of South Korea are able to coordinate 4 AWACS aircraft Boeing 737 AEW & C, in addition there are 8 British reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft RC-800s, built on the basis of Hawker 800. Military transport aviation is represented by 16 American aircraft Lockheed C-130 and 18 Spanish CN -235M, as well as two aircraft for the transport of senior command personnel Boeing 737 and Boeing 747.


At present, the South Korean T-50 Golden Eagle is gradually becoming its main training aircraft of the South Korean Air Force. The Air Force already has 22 of such aircraft (a total of 63 machines have been ordered). All of them will have to replace American Northrop F-5F used for training purposes in the air force. The T-50 family of aircraft, including the FA-50 light multipurpose combat aircraft, has good prospects, including export ones. The Republic of Korea also plans to purchase fifth-generation F-40A fighter jets from the US.

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  1. Klos
    Klos 18 November 2015 08: 03
    Want peace, get ready for war
  2. Mera joota
    Mera joota 18 November 2015 08: 14
    117 multi-purpose F-16C and 51 double F-16D

    I would like to add that the war over the contract for the modernization of the Korean KF-16C / D Block 52 has recently ended. From the history of the issue. The Koreans decided to modernize their KF-16C / D Block.52 and BAE Systems and Raytheon got involved in this, advertising went on and in these companies they began to count the profits. But it wasn’t about that. Suddenly, representatives of the customer doubted that these companies could meet the allotted US $ 2,7 billion and litigation began so as not to pay a penalty ... It would seem, why would it? Well, of course, the ubiquitous Lockheed Martin corporation, which together with Northrop Grumman seems to be making this modernization, has not signed a contract for as far as I know.
    Honestly, the LM and NG version looks much more attractive, because it is practically an F-16V Viper, whose first flight was carried out on October 16 this year.
  3. sevtrash
    sevtrash 18 November 2015 10: 06
    The screen in the first shot is interesting - is it translucent, it seems? Judging by the coincidence of the relief on the screen and behind it? Or just a coincidence.
    1. wizarden
      wizarden 18 November 2015 10: 39
      Coincidence. If you look closely, the right edge does not match.
  4. saruman
    saruman 18 November 2015 10: 31
    Good review. It is worth noting that South Korea has a fairly developed military industry. But defeating the DPRK army on its own, anyway, will not work. The United States will inevitably get involved in the war in Korea with some allies, on the one hand, and China on the other. The result is not predictable. Nothing good for us either. So, I wish endurance and common sense to Koreans and their patrons.
    1. Mera joota
      Mera joota 18 November 2015 11: 27
      Quote: saruman
      But defeating the DPRK army on its own, anyway, will not work

      Ento why? Do you really believe that Koreans will fight to the death of their cheeky stunned to death? The DPRK army is an army of potential prisoners of war. As soon as communication is lost and a single control collapses (and this happens), the army will turn into an uncontrollable rabble.
      Quote: saruman
      and China on the other

      Yes, of course, the Chinese have nothing more to do. They themselves are ready to throw tanks at Pyongyang.
      1. complete zero
        complete zero 18 November 2015 23: 42
        nothing of the kind ... fanaticism and faith in the "leader" of the Northern Correans ... we under Stalin never dreamed of such a thing.
    2. zyablik.olga
      zyablik.olga 18 November 2015 11: 40
      Quote: saruman
      Good review.

      Unfortunately, the author most likely "drew information" from unverified sources without really understanding what he was writing about. For instance:
      Currently, South Korea’s Army has at least 30 mobile-based tactical missiles “Hyunmu-1” (firing range is 180 km) and up to 100 silo-based missiles (range-2 km).
      The OTR Hyunmoo (pictured) is based on the obsolete American Nike-Hercules anti-aircraft missiles and it is absolutely unrealistic to put them in the mine.
  5. marinier
    marinier 18 November 2015 10: 49
    Good time of the day.
    Menia was impressed by the military stats of the bijet. And this is in peaceful times.
    no inflation. How much I heard there is no deficiency of the bijet. And which
    terms of service. It should be recognized, moreover, there is no any foreign assistance or assistance.
    For example, Israel, Egypt. At the same time, it should be noted that such economies are riad
    giants. China, Iaponia. And what are the successes in V.P.K.
    Thanks to the author.
    1. Zymran
      Zymran 18 November 2015 10: 51
  6. Down House
    Down House 18 November 2015 11: 31
    Along the border deployed about 20 thousand artillery systems and MLRS systems in North Korea, which can get Seoul. Suppress such a number of artillery guns is not possible purely physically.

    So that no one speaks, but the "stationary" artillery, with proper use, still decides!
  7. TIO1969
    TIO1969 18 November 2015 13: 21
    Thanks to the author of the article. Everything is capacious, informative.
    I’ll expand the topic of helicopters a bit, or just in one line 
    Moreover, as with most weapons, South Korea is also trying to be self-sufficient here.
    Since 2012, the army began supplying the national helicopter KUH-1 Surion, developed with the participation of the Eurocopter concern.
    It is expected that the South Korean army will purchase 2023 Surion helicopters by 245, primarily to replace its fleet of Bell UH-1 helicopters.
    1. padded jacket
      padded jacket 18 November 2015 13: 59
      All this power, of course, is very "terrible", but it is practically nullified by the presence of nuclear weapons in the DPRK, as well as by the presence in South Korea of ​​at least nine (I don’t remember exactly) nuclear power plants that, in case of adverse events for the DPRK on the military front, will definitely undergo their strikes missiles.
      So if someone from the leadership of both Koreas does not go crazy, then the war between them is not real.
      1. Klos
        Klos 19 November 2015 08: 02
        As a result, Koreans lose. All.
  8. mvg
    mvg 18 November 2015 15: 23
    Quote: zyablik.olga

    What is this? It is really possible to "shove" it into the TPK, but not into the mine .. Is there a limitation on the depth of the mine?
  9. wicked pinnochio
    wicked pinnochio 18 November 2015 17: 16
    South Korea and Japan are two armies for which the United States will harness
  10. kvs207
    kvs207 18 November 2015 20: 52
    Quote: Mera Joota
    Do you really believe that Koreans will fight to the death of their cheeky stunned to death? The DPRK army is an army of potential prisoners of war. As soon as communication is lost and a single control collapses (and this happens), the army will turn into an uncontrollable rabble.

    Do you know the North Korean mentality so well that you speak so confidently?
  11. RUSLAN
    RUSLAN 29 November 2015 03: 26
    The most modern of these are the Sejon Thewan destroyers, which are also the world's most powerful surface-based non-naval warships. YES OK ... SAY THE AUTHOR HAD SEE?
  12. NordOst16
    NordOst16 20 March 2016 18: 45
    That's who you need to collaborate with. South Korea is relatively located relatively close to the Russian Federation, but far enough not to have territorial problems. In general, it is a high-tech country. So it would be a very good ally. Much better than China.