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Export-Prohibited Parts Found on Israeli AWACS

Posted December. 06, 2005 06:47,   


Some of the communication devices on G-550s built by Israel’s ELTA, which is competing against Boeing of the U.S. to supply airborne early warning aircraft to Korea, were revealed to be on the U.S. list of export-prohibited products.

One Ministry of National Defense official said that it has sent several letters to the U.S. seeking cooperation regarding the export-banned communication devices. The U.S. replied that the matter will be dealt with according to custom.

The devices at issue are critical equipment such as aircraft satellite communication devices and data link devices which allow airplanes to exchange information on military tactics and situations with each other. If the U.S. does not approve of exporting these devices to Korea, Korea may not be able to import ELTA’s aircraft.

The ministry official added that although it is possible to purchase other devices to replace the export-prohibited devices, the Korean government is continuing its negotiation with ELTA because the company is positive about resolving this issue. However, ELTA has not yet come up with a solution to this problem.

The ministry plans to decide on its final choice by the end of this year. It will hold a procurement development deliberation council on December 12 to select Boeing’s B-737 or ELTA’s G-550 as a satisfactory candidate and then negotiate prices with the two parties. ELTA was known to have offered a lower price than Boeing.

Last Saturday, someone wrote on the ministry’s webpage (www.mnd.go.kr) raising doubts over how the U.S. suppliers of ELTA passed the government’s test, despite the fact that the devices required by the Korean military failed to get export approval from the U.S. government.

“The testing is still on going. Not only ELTA but also Boeing failed to satisfy some criteria, but we followed relevant procedures to choose them as candidates. We are now carrying on negotiations with the companies,” said one ministry official in response.

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com