‘S Korea to deploy Apache choppers near N Korea’

‘S Korea to deploy Apache choppers near N Korea’ Seoul: South Korea plans to deploy Apache choppers to a border island to guard against attacks by North Korea after Pyongyang's deadly shelling of another frontline island in November, a report said today.

The South's military is building helicopter hangars capable of accommodating several attack helicopters in Baengnyeong island near the tense maritime border on the Yellow Sea, Yonhap news agency said, citing a military source.

By October 2012, South Korea's military will have 36 Apache attack choppers armed with guided missiles and rockets, some of which will be deployed to the closest island to the disputed border with the North, Yonhap said.

Local media have reported the North has recently built a new naval base in Goampo, about 50 kilometres north of Baengnyeong, that could send some 60 hovercraft with military commandos aboard to the South.

"We now need large attack choppers since the (North's) naval base has turned out to be far bigger than we had thought, posing a bigger threat of infiltration," said a source quoted by Yonhap.

A defence ministry spokesman said it has been trying to strengthen the military presence near the border, but declined to elaborate further.

The Yellow Sea maritime border has been the scene of deadly naval clashes between two Koreas in 1999, 2002 and November 2009.

One of five frontier islands there -- Yeonpyeong -- was shelled last November by the North in artillery attacks that killed four South Koreans including two civilians.

Seoul since then has deployed more troops and weapons to the frontline islands that had long been guarded by thousands of marines and naval forces.