By Whisper, on April 19th, 2011
Adding to the novelty value of the DPRK, their second runway in a mountain is apparently nearing completion. While this seems very cool and tactical to the casual observer, and this fighter pilot, for one, would love to launch (at least once) out of a mountain James Bond style, there really is no good reason for doing this. As a matter of strike planning, it actually simplifies the problem. Instead of using multiple PGMs to destroy dozens of hardened aircraft shelters, revetments, and ramp space – you really only need two: one for each end of the tunnel. A partial collapse will suffice.
Assuming a potential adversary allows you to retain the use of your troglodyte aerodrome, there are a few other things to consider:
1) Aborted landing.You touchdown long, fast, or have other controllability issues. The standard practice here would be to select max power and go around for another try. Might be sporty with a face full of mountain.
2) Overpressure/acoustical issues. To avoid the dangers of the aborted landing, you build a second strip nearby to recover aircraft and use the hollow hill for launches only. Where does the take-off run start? Inside? That will be insanely loud. Looks like a pretty short strip for puttin’ the spurs to it beginning outside the door. Aborted take-offs could get spicy. Obviously you wouldn’t start at one end, go blazing through the mountain at 100kts, and rotate on the other side. Obviously, right?
For my money, dispersal of your assets is a better idea than pre-packaging them in a mountain coffin. The RoCAF knows they will be denied use of their airfields early-on in a skirmish with big brother and have prepared for that eventuality. Less sexy for sure, but much more pragmatic.
Sidebar: It is urban legend that one in five miles of the Eisenhower Interstate System is required to be straight for use as an auxiliary runway.