Posted January. 05, 2005 22:13,
The chance of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) postponing or canceling the next-generation guided missile project, also known as Surface to Air Missile (SAM-X) that was set in motion in 2000, has sky-rocketed as no budget has been approved for this project, which is one of the major military power reinforcing projects along with Fighter-X (FX) and Early Warning Aircraft-X (EX) projects.
According to the ministrys report on January 5, the National Defense Committee of the National Assembly has allotted 10 billion won for the SAM-X project fund for the 2005 defense budget deliberation period at the end of last year, but it turned out that the entire amount was cut in the Sub-committee session on Calculation Adjustment done by the Special Committee on Budget Settlement of the National Assembly.
At first, MND requested 38.7 billion won for the SAM-X fund to the government in May 2004, but the Office of Planning and Budget curtailed the entire amount. However, the MND insisted that force improvement plans for replacing 40-year-old Nike Surface to Air Missiles was imperative and reflected 10 billion won in this years budget for the fund to be used to start the project.
Regarding this issue, an MND official said, The SAM-X project needs to continue by including it into the Mid-term National Defense Plan that is set to start from 2006,
However, the popular opinion in and outside of the military is that it is highly likely that this project will be postponed indefinitely or even canceled. The budget for this project, which was launched in 2000 by MND, was never granted the fund, and there is a high possibility that it will be put on hold for a long time due to the strong opposition from the political circle and the civic groups. In addition, the pressure for the budget increases every year whenever the project is postponed because of the price hike in buying those weapons.
One of the military officials commented, We have the assistance of Patriot Missiles from the U.S. Forces in Korea, but we cannot be free from North Koreas long-range gunneries and missile in emergencies, and added, An alternative measure is due immediately since the Korean Mid-range Surface-to-Air Missile (K-MSAM), which is to replace the Nike Missiles, is expected not expected to be completed until 2010.