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8/10/17

N.Korea - USA: What the U.S. Would Use to Strike North Korea - by Stratford Research

No other country can match the United States when it comes to projection of power. Should Washington decide to carry out a military strike against North Korea, even a limited one, the immediate impact would be devastating for Pyongyang. When considering military action, however, it is important to acknowledge the variables and intelligence gaps that inevitably complicate political and military decision-making. Even with the United States' advantage in training, coordination and equipment, complicating factors and uncertainty about the exact locations and dispositions of North Korean assets make complete mission success far from assured.

It is important to consider the parameters of any operation; in this case, we are basing our assumptions on a scenario in which the United States conducts a limited, stealthy attack using a small number of specialized platforms and weapons systems. The United States has enormous force projection and deep-strike capabilities. In a surprise attack scenario, the primary tools for the task would be stealth aircraft and standoff cruise missiles launched from ships and submarines.

The North Koreans have a dense and interlocked air defense network, but the force is obsolete and largely incapable of adequately defending against or even detecting full-spectrum stealth aircraft such as the U.S. B-2 bomber and F-22 tactical fighter. Because of their unique properties, these expensive, stealthy platforms would form the backbone of any anti-nuclear operations. Given enough time, the United States could assemble upward of 10 B-2 bombers for a deep-strike mission into North Korea.

The shorter combat radius of the F-22 would limit the number of aircraft available for the task, necessitating the deployment of the fighter to regional airfields. This in turn could alert Pyongyang to upcoming offensive operations. Using airfields in Japan and South Korea and operating under a highly restrictive operational security environment, the U.S. Air Force could probably deploy 24 F-22 aircraft for the mission, remaining fairly confident that undue suspicions were not raised in the process.
Each F-22 can be equipped with two 450-kilogram (1,000 pounds) GBU-32 JDAM bombs. The F-22 can actually carry a larger number of small diameter bombs instead of the bigger GBU-32, but the nature of the mission calls for more explosive heft. Unlike the multipurpose F-22, the B-2 Spirit is a designated bomber and can carry a lot more explosive weight per plane. Each B-2 would deploy with either 16 900-kilogram GBU-31 JDAMs or a pair of massive 13,600-kilogram GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrators to reach deep underground bunkers.

In addition to the guided bombs dropped by U.S. stealth aircraft, the United States can rely on large numbers of venerable BGM-109 Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles to fly in on the heels of the stealth aircraft and strike remaining targets. For the mission, the U.S. Navy (with enough time to prepare) can surreptitiously park two of its four Ohio-class cruise missile submarines off the North Korean coast. Together, these submarines can deploy more than 300 BGM-109 missiles. When combined with destroyers and cruisers from the 7th Fleet already in the area, the United States could use more than 600 cruise missiles for the mission.

With a force of 10 Massive Ordnance Penetrators and 80 900-kilogram GBU-31 JDAMs, the U.S. B-2 bombers alone are more than enough to dismantle or at least severely damage North Korea's known nuclear production infrastructure, as well as associated nuclear weapons storage sites. \

What the U.S. Would Use to Strike North Korea - Stratfor Worldview

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