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Air Force aims to “drastically” improve command & control system for future warfare

Seoul sees urgency of developing capabilities to respond to ‘omnidirectional air threats’

(South Korea's Air Force)
(South Korea's Air Force)
South Korea has launched a project to “drastically” improve the Air Force’s command and control system, intending to enhance the military’s capabilities to detect and respond to air-based threats and its adaptability for the future battlefield.

Defense contractor Hanwha Systems has begun developing the system to upgrade the function and capabilities of the Master Control and Reporting Center, which serves as a front-line unit in air defense, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration announced Thursday.

At the MCRC, the Air Force monitors South and North Korean airspace around the clock and controls and commands all aircraft flying over the Korean Peninsula as well as air defense assets.

The MCRC is a “system that disseminates data and information to operational personnel by integrating and processing tracking data detected from early warning assets and received from external organizations so as to effectively control combined and joint air operations,” according to the arms procurement agency.

DAPA underscored the urgency of replacing aging equipment and upgrading the existing system within some 12 years to enhance air and space command and control capabilities, especially as the battlefield environment has rapidly changed.

In 2010, the South Korean military completed the project to improve the function of the Air Force’s command and control center.

But without further capability improvement, the limitations in the Air Force’s current command and control system and obsolete military equipment will impede joint air operations.

The Air Force will eventually have difficulties and limitations in transmitting data and linking the military’s detection and interception systems, which will be deployed in the future, to the MCRC, DAPA explained.

The main goal of the project is to “enhance the capabilities to respond to omnidirectional air threats and to conduct joint military operations” and enable the Air Force to have smooth communications and information sharing among various platforms across land, air and sea.

To that end, the South Korean military will improve connectivity between intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, assets and the MCRC as well as upgrade tactical data links.

“In particular, we will strengthen surveillance capabilities in preparation for future warfare and acquire capabilities to control and command the remote operation of air assets by improving the ability to process radar data and expanding the scope to detect hostile aerial targets,” DAPA said.

The Air Force expects that it will be able to “nimbly” adapt to changes in the operational environment and “overcome limitations in conducting combat operations stemmed from aging equipment” after the project.

DAPA underscored that the military seeks to “drastically improve the function and capabilities of the Master Control and Reporting Center by employing the up-to-date hardware and software programs.”

The arms procurement agency plans to complete upgrading the Air Force’s key command and control center by the end of 2026, allocating 193.1 billion won ($158 million) for the five-year project that kicked off this month.

“The Master Control and Reporting Center is the core command and control asset, which is capable of surveilling the Korean airspace, identifying air threats early and promptly responding to them,” Jeong Gyu-heon, director-general of the space command and C4I program at DAPA said.

“Therefore, we expect that the capability improvement will greatly contribute to strengthening the security of Korean airspace,” Jeong said.

By Ji Da-gyum (dagyumji@heraldcorp.com)
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