Posted January. 18, 2010 08:19,
The Defense Ministry is seeking to buy the latest model of the U.S. M-ATV (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicles) to protect Korean troops to be deployed to Afghanistan in July.
A high-ranking government official said yesterday that the Korean military has officially asked the Pentagon to sell some 20 units of the vehicle to protect Korean soldiers from attacks from improvised explosive devices (IEDs), mines and ambush attacks by enemy forces including the Taliban.
U.S. defense authorities are reportedly considering the request positively. Originally, the Korean military considered renting or buying about 10 Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles from the U.S.
Seoul then sought to purchase the MATV, an upgrade over the MRAP, to ensure the safety of its troops.
Another government source in Seoul said, The government concluded that using MATVs is better because theyre lighter and more agile than MRAPs to protect deployed troops and allow them to seamlessly conduct their mission to defend and protect the provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan.
The military plans to purchase the MRAP if buying the MATV proves difficult.
After the U.S. deployed some 770 MRAPs in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2007, the casualty rate of American soldiers from IED attacks declined from 70 percent to 10 percent. The MATV retains the same mine-resistant capability as the MRAP, but as the latest model of a tactical operational vehicle, the MATV boasts enhanced mobility due to lighter weight and increased engine output.
Hence, the MATV is more suitable for the rough mountainous terrain of Afghanistan than the MRAP, and is better equipped to cope with ambushes by terrorist groups, analysts say.
The Korean military has also reportedly decided to purchase the same models used by the U.S. military for other equipment, including a device for interfering with the frequency of mobile handsets used to remotely detonate IEDs.
A military source said, For equipment to be used by troops in Afghanistan, we will give top priority to equipment that has been proven in real warfare situations.
The Defense Ministry submitted a troop dispatch bill to the National Assembly late last year. When the bill is approved by the extra parliamentary session next month, Korea will send the first batch of its 320 soldiers to Afghanistan around July.