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Posted : 2010-11-25 19:14
Updated : 2010-11-25 19:14

N. Korea fired fuel-air shells on Yeonpyeong


Spent casings from North Korean artillery shells that were fired Tuesday on Yeonpyeong Island in West Sea are shown at a ruling Grand National Party Supreme Council meeting held at the National Assembly, Thursday.
/ Korea Times
By Jung Sung-ki

North Korea used a new type of artillery shell capable of penetrating concrete walls and causing fires in Tuesday’s deadly shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in the West Sea, military investigators said Thursday.

The “special shell” similar to a thermobaric weapon, known as a fuel-air bomb, is believed to have been deployed since 1985, they said. A team of investigators has recovered some 20 duds that landed on the island for analysis.

“After initial analysis of shells fired from the North, we’ve concluded that they are of a type that can penetrate concrete walls and maximize fires,” an investigator said on condition of anonymity.

The weapon has lethal capabilities as it creates superheat and high pressure when it explodes, he added.

A day earlier, Rep. Song Young-sun of the Future Hope Alliance, a minor opposition party, claimed at a parliamentary session that the North used thermobaric shells in its attacks on Yeonpyeong Island.

Song said she reached the conclusion after analyzing the scenes of explosions shown on TV footage with researchers at the state-funded Agency for Defense Development.

“TV footage clearly showed most of the shells caused two explosions, which is one of the characteristics of thermobaric weapons,” she said.

The thermobaric weapon is used in some cases to cause fear among civilians by setting houses and buildings on fire that later intensify, said the lawmaker, a former researcher of the state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses.

Devices with a high proportion of powdered metal such as aluminum or magnesium to explosive are termed “thermobaric.” When the explosive goes off, the powdered metal at the leading edge of the fireball burns as it makes contact with the air depending on the exothermicity of its oxidation..

With a crude device, the powder simply burns and adds to the fireball. In more advanced weapons, the burning metal is accompanied by a sub-sonic shockwave.

This weapon is useful in military applications where its longer duration increases the numbers of casualties and causes more damages to structures.

A North Korean army unit fired about 170 shells from artillery at South Korean marine facilities and civilian habitats, killing two marines and two construction workers.

The South returned fire with about 80 rounds from three K9 self-propelled howitzers, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

Previously, the JCS said all of six K9 howitzers on the island fired back, but it was revealed that three of them were hit by shells fired from the North or were under repair for software glitches.

The only AN/TPQ-36 artillery location radar didn’t work properly so the South failed to neutralize North Korean artillery, a JCS source admitted.



북한 대량살상 포탄 사용

북한이 지난 화요일 연평도 포격에 콘크리트 벽을 뚫고 화재를 극대화 시키는 특수폭탄을 사용한 것으로 확인됐다.

군 조사단은 연평도에서 북한이 쏜 불발탄 20개를 수거해 정밀 분석했고 “열압력탄”과 유사한 특수 폭탄이라고 설명했다.

한 관계자는 “초기 분석 결과 북한이 쏜 포탄 중에는 콘크리트 벽을 뚫을 수 있을 뿐 아니라 화재를 극대화 시키는 데 이용되는 무기인 것으로 밝혀졌다”라고 말했다.

이 포탄은 고온과 고압력하에서 폭발하면서 대량살상의 성능을 가진 것으로 알려진다.

미래희망연대의 송영선의원은 전날 북한이 쏜 포탄이 열압력탄이라고 주장해 눈낄을 끌었다.

송 의원은 티비에 포착된 폭발 장면을 국방과학연구소 연구원과 정밀 분석한 결과 포탄이 떨어진 이후 시차를 두고 두 번째 폭발이 일어난 점을 발견했다고 전했다.

송 의원은 열압력탄은 목표물을 직접 타격하는 것 외에도 연쇄폭발을 통해 건물 등에 큰 화재를 일으킴으로써 일반 시민들의 공포감을 조성하는데 이용된다고 설명했다.
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