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Conflict Deepens Between Ministry of Defense and Air Force Over Airborne Early Warning Project

Conflict Deepens Between Ministry of Defense and Air Force Over Airborne Early Warning Project

Posted March. 30, 2005 23:06,   


As the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) have stark differences of opinion concerning the Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft for Korea’s EX Program, there are growing concerns over its possible failure.

Last month, the MND conducted a pilot test of models from the U.S.’s Boeing Corp. and Israel’s IAI, and announced that the latter fell short of the standard in its remote operation center (ROC). As a result, it said competitive bidding has become inevitable, declaring that it would start over from the beginning. As such, the ministry is planning to choose models by year-end, posting the acquisition announcement by next month through correcting procedure of the ROC.

However, the ROKAF sponsoring the pilot test refuted the ministry’s decision. A key official of ROKAF said on March 30, “It does not make sense that the ROC procedures are to be changed for the re-evaluation. The pilot test result showed that the IAI model had a weaker detection capability, so it would be the norm to go for the Boeing and start negotiating on the price.” As the ROC refers to the detailed standard on weapons, “One cannot arbitrarily change it as the Ministry of Defense remarked,” he argued.

He added, “Up until last year, the MND had emphasized the principle of ‘choosing models after pilot testing.’ And now, it has changed its attitude by saying it would start negotiating all over again, which is hard to fathom.”

As such, as distrust between the MND and the ROKAF deepens, some doubts have arisen that the EX project, that has been delayed for so long, might fail.

One military official said, “It is doubtful whether there would be more participating entities as the ministry expected, even if the ROC is rectified,” adding, “This will lead to an inevitable delay of at least a year.”

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com

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