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R.O.Korea Navy News

[Mar.15,1999]Seoul May Buy Russian Subs as Loan Repayment

South Korea is seriously considering having Russia pay back its debts to Seoul with submarines, a government source said yesterday.

The source said top-level officials from Chong Wa Dae, the presidential offices and related ministries met last month to study the possibility and tentatively agreed to receive two Russian subs as early as this year.

Behind the government's consideration is Russia's economic crisis which virtually makes it impossible for Russia to repay the debt immediately and President Kim Dae-jung's scheduled visit to Moscow in May.

Russia is said to have made specific proposals, offering ``K'' sub which is over 2,500 tons and ``Amur'' which is below 1,900 tons.

But observers say the decision may entail heated debate between ministries and opposition from the defense industry.

The source said South Korea may receive two submarines first and ask Russia to transfer technology for additional purchases.

A Defense Ministry official admitted that Moscow had proposed that South Korea buy Russian arms including missiles, jet fighters and submarines. ``A review is under way on integrated logistics support on these equipment, but there has been no final decision,'' he said.
[Korea Times News]

[Mar.15,1999] Russia wants to pay debts with subs

To pay back its debts to Seoul, Russia wants to build submarines for South Korea's new sub program, and it has also offered fighters and missiles as part of the repayment, an informed government source said yesterday.

Moscow has suggested that the government select either 2,500-ton Kilo-class or 1,900-ton Amur-class submarines for Korea's new program codenamed SSU, said the source who demanded anonymity. Under Russia's suggestion, two submarines built in Russia would be delivered to South Korea before a Korean contractor starts to build several others with Russian technology.

Russian officials have also suggested that South Korea pay 50 to 70 percent of the submarine's cost in cash with the remaining amount to be credited to repayment of its debts, the source said.

He added Adm. Vladimir I. Kuroyedov, commander-in-chief of the Russian Federal Navy who visited South Korea early this month, delivered Moscow's willingness to participate in the SSU program to Korean military leaders.

Russia is strongly hoping to pay more than $1.4 billion of its debts with hi-tech weapons. It has sent a list of military hardware it wants to sell to South Korea, including fighter jets and the S-300 air defense system.

Government officials recently discussed the suggestion, and South Korea and Russia will further discuss the matter in Seoul this week, when Russian finance-related officials visit Seoul, and also in April at the South Korea-Russia bilateral economic committee meeting slated for Moscow.

Russian weapons have so far been excluded from major weapons programs here, apparently due to logistics problems. The source, however, said that "it seems to me that there's a possibility the government will allow Russia to compete with other foreign submarine builders for the SSU program."

The Defense Ministry announced in February that the SSU program will start in October this year, by which time the main contractors will have been selected. Daewoo, teamed up with Germany's HDW, and Hyundai, joined by France's DSN, and several other European companies are expected to participate in the bidding. The program was shelved in late 1997, as Hyundai sued the Defense Ministry for unfair bidding. Daewoo is currently building the last batch of nine, 1200-ton 209-class submarines with German technology. The Navy wants larger, more advanced submarines.

In 1991, Russia inherited $1.47 billion in debts to South Korea from the former Soviet Union. The debt once grew to $1.89 billion due to overdue payments and accumulated interest. Russia has so far paid back $450 million in weapons and raw material. Officials from the two countries will discuss how to pay back the remaining $1.44 billion.

Since 1995, Russia has shipped weapons worth $210 million and helicopters and raw material worth $240 million to South Korea to repay some of its debts, which were due in 1993. South Korea has thus far received T-80U main battle tanks, BMP-2 armored infantry vehicles, "Metis" antitank missiles and "Igla" portable air-defense missiles.
[Korea Herald News]

[Mar.12,1999] Korea to join U.S.-led combined maritime drill

The South Korean Navy will participate in a five-nation, three-week maritime maneuver exercise codenamed Tandem Trust for the first time at seas off Guam from next week, the Defense Ministry said yesterday.

Naval forces from the 7th U.S. Fleet, Canada, Australia, and Singapore will participate in the biennial exercise, which started in 1991.

U.S. and Australian Air Force and Army forces, the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, and more than 20 warships and 80 aircraft will also join the drill sponsored by the 7th U.S. Fleet. South Korea will dispatch a frigate, a submarine and a P-3C anti-submarine aircraft.

The drill is held every year ending in an odd number in the western Pacific, while similar RIMPAC exercises, led by the 3rd U.S. Fleet, are held in waters off Hawaii in years ending in even numbers.
[Korea Herald News]

[Feb.13,1999]Korea to spend 26.7 trillion won on five-year defense program

The Navy will have three Aegis-class destroyers within 10 years under a medium-term defense procurement project, the Defense Ministry said yesterday.

Each of the 7,000-ton destroyers will cost about 1 trillion won. Design of the state-of-the-art warship will start in the year 2001 and the first will be launched in 2009 or 2010, a ministry spokesman said. Presently the U.S. and Japanese navies are the only ones to have Aegis-class destroyers, which, equipped with high-tech electronic devices and weapons, is capable of attacking multiple targets.

The Defense Ministry will invest more than 26.7 trillion won from 2000 to 2004 for an ambitious defense improvement program. The program includes the destroyer-building project code-named KDX-III, next-generation fighter program, purchases of attack helicopters, surface-to-air missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The 26.7 trillion won to be poured into the weapons procurement program is part of the 81.5 trillion won defense expenditure plan to be implemented over the next five years.

The defense budget for 2000 will be 14.5 trillion won, compared with 13.7 trillion won this year.

But the program to acquire early warning aircraft, often called AWACS, has been delayed from 2001 to 2004, the ministry said.

Concerning the program for the Army attack helicopters, the Defense Ministry said it will cost more than 2.1 trillion won to acquire scores of anti-tank attack helicopters such as Apache or Tiger. The program will start in 2002 and complete in 2009. At present, five to six countries are producing attack helicopters similar with U.S.-made Apache.

The Korean Army now has a score of less advanced Cobra attack helicopters, and the program will upgrade the Army's anti-tank attack capability.

As for the next-generation fighter program, a ministry official said selection of the fighter will be complete by the year 2001, adding the ministry eyes procurement of about 60 new fighter jets. Among the candidates are Rafale of France, Eurofighter being produced by a European consortium, F-15 of the United States and Russia's Sukhoi-35.

Those fighters participated in the Seoul Air Show Oct. 26 to Nov. 1 last year and competed fiercely to draw attention of Korean news media, government officials and industrial leaders.

The cost of the program varies, but is expected to be somewhere between 3 trillion won and 6 trillion won, the ministry said. By early next year when the Korea Fighter Program finishes, the Air Force will acquire 120 F-16 Fighting Falcon jet fighters. Twelve of the F-16 were manufactured by U.S. Lockheed Martin, and the remaining were assembled or produced by Samsung of Korea.

Another program, code-named SAM-X, is related to the purchase either of U.S.-made Patriot missiles and Russia's S-300 air defense system. The program, worth 2 trillion won, was delayed in 1997 amid a fierce competition between the United States and Russia which wanted to sell their own systems.

At that time, U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen openly requested South Korea purchase Patriot system, while Russian officials charged the United States. for its "bullying tactic." A ministry official said selection of the missile system will likely be made next year.

Under another program, an undisclosed number of unmanned surveillance aircraft worth 100 billion won will be purchased in 2001-2002. South Korean Army already has Israeli-made unmanned surveillance vehicle.

A program to build new submarines, code-named SSU, will start in October this year, when the main contractors will be selected. Now Daewoo, teamed with Germany's HDW, and Hyundai, teamed with French DSN, are expected to participate in the bidding. The program was shelved in late 1997, as Hyundai sued the Defense Ministry for unfair bidding.
[ Korea Herald Nwes ]

[Feb.10,1999]BAe gets Korean destroyer combat management system order

British Aerospace's newly formed Defence Systems Group has secured a key order from the Korean navy. The Group's Land & Sea Systems business will develop and produce a combat management system, for three Batch 2 KDX destroyers in a ?6 million deal.

Combat management systems coordinate, manage and link all combat system equipments, presenting the overall tactical picture to the command team so that decisions can be made and actions taken - sometimes with only seconds available to respond.

The order is the second from the Koreans and follows the initial prime contract, which was completed in May last year. This covered the supply and integration of the SSCS combat management system, fire control and associated radars and combat system databus.

The Batch 2 KDX is a larger ship, 5,000 tons, with a longer-range anti-air missile system, enhanced anti-submarine warfare and all-round self-defence capabilities, requiring an expanded combat management system.

The new contract extends SSCS ability to manage more than 40 leading world market combat system equipments backed up by a large suite of in-service applications software including advanced long-range anti-air warfare capabilities.

The Batch 2 KDX combat system features the US-supplied Standard Missile 2/Mk41 launched missile system, the STIR tracker radars are upgraded from 1.8 to 2.4 dishes. The SM2 missile fire control system is the proven WDS 14 from Tracor. Other additions include towed array and acoustic countermeasures together with a Korean datalink system.

The new combat management system contract covers considerable additional interfacing and functional software, including enhancement to the Batch 1 Threat Evaluation and Weapon Assignment package, a further two consoles and systems integration work to link SSCS with the SM2/Mk41/WDS 14 anti-air warfare combination and the other new combat system equipments. The in-service date is 2003.

Roger Barnes, managing director Sea Systems in Land & Sea Systems, said: "This significant follow-on order continues our work in Korea and places us in a strong position for future combat system orders both in the UK and overseas. I have been impressed with what has been achieved so far and am grateful for the strong support from the British Government and Royal Navy."

Rear Admiral John Tolhurst, military deputy to the head of the UK Government's Defence Export Services Organisation, said: "British Aerospace well deserves this important contract for the KDX Batch 2 destroyer. It will continue the close relationship which the UK enjoys with the Republic of Korea and with its rapidly expanding navy."

[Jan. 21,99] Y2K Problems Under Control: Defense Ministry

The Defense Ministry said yesterday that all necessary steps are being taken to ensure that no disruptions in the operation of its computer and computer-related equipment will occur due to the ``millennium bug.''

In a press briefing, a ministry spokesman said, ``All measures have been taken to fail-safe 97 percent of our computer-operated weapons and support systems, while significant progress has been made in efforts to deal with military communication and other computer-utilized systems.''

The spokesman said that out of 677 weapons and support systems, 212 systems with in-built computer chips had been checked and 194 were found to have no potential Year 2000 problems. Written assurances have also been received from their manufacturers, he said.

Y2K is expected to wreak havoc on old computers designed to read the date using only the last two digits of the year. These computers are unable to distinguish the year 2000 from 1900 and may shut down at midnight on Dec. 31, 1999 when their dating mechanism shifts to 00.

Missiles, air defense systems, fire control electronics equipment or command & control systems, which have the potential to cause widespread destruction should the systems malfunction, are not included in the list of the 15 ``potentially problematic'' systems, he said. ``They are support systems related to maintenance, test or mockup training equipment,'' he said.

The ministry has decided to delay the deployment of three types of equipment, all global positioning systems, until after 2000 due to Y2K fears.

The spokesman said that one GSP system, an MX-1105 made by U.S. Magnanox, of which 19 are in use on submarines, destroyers and frigates, is being checked for potential Y2K problems and is up for changes.

The ministry said that no potential problems have been found in missiles, such as anti-aircraft Nikes, Hawks and Pegasus and anti-ship Harpoons, or in Air Force radar and Navy fire control systems.

The ministry said that all measures will be completed by June of this year. ``In May, we will designate a Y2K test day to test-run the systems, and find and address all Y2K problems,'' a spokesman said.
[ Koreatimes News ]

[Jan. 21,99] ROK Navy Spots Sunken NK Spy Boat

After a one-month intensive undersea search, the ROK Navy yesterday located a North Korean spy boat that launched a failed infiltration attempt via the South Coast on Dec. 18 before being sunk in a subsequent exchange of fire in open seas 100 km south of Koje Island, Kyongsang-namdo.

In a press briefing, Navy spokesman Cmdr. Oh Chol-sik told defense correspondents, ``A recovery operation for the sunken communist semi-submersible craft is underway, an operation involving ROK military deep sea divers and an 11-ton crane on board Navy salvage vessel Chonghaejin.''

A videotape recorded by an unmanned Navy mine disposal vehicle (MDV) revealed the location of the 10-meter long, 5-ton craft, which according to military experts is the latest in a series of North Korean infiltration vessels. The spy boat currently rests on the sandy seabed at a depth of 150 meters, its upper and rear sections severely damaged, probably as a result of the barrage of cannon fire to which it was subjected in its ill-fated battle with ROK Navy gunships.

There were no signs of the remains of the boat's crewmen visible on the tape. The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) estimate that the boat could have been carrying up to eight people when it was sunk. To date, the Navy has accounted for only one of the spy ship's crewmen, having recovered the body of a North Korean with a hand grenade in his pocket.

``We expect it will take about 10 days to raise the craft, weather permitting,'' Cmdr. Oh said, adding that the operation could stretch anywhere from one to two months, considering high seas and the mercurial changes of weather typical of the area in January and February.

The Navy had been pressed to locate the boat after reporting that it had been sunk but providing little evidence to support its claim of a ``major operational success.'' Before the discovery of the craft, only the body of the North Korean and a few items believed to have been aboard the sunken craft had been recovered.

A fleet of four ships _ a 325-ton vessel operated by the state-run Agency for Defense Development (ADD) equipped with side-scan sonar, two 450-ton minesweepers with sonar and MDV and a 3,200-ton sub salvage ship with a deep submergence rescue vehicle (DSRV), had been combing the area where the spy boat went down for a period of weeks. The craft was finally located about 450 meters away from the point where the Navy initially believed it was sunk. The Navy was at one time so desperate to recover the boat that it sought to bring in a U.S. Navy undersea recovery expert, who who asked for 450 million won for a 21-day search. Judging his fee to be too high, the Navy continued the search on its own.

On Jan. 18, the ADD ship located an underwater object with its sonar and after an MDV was brought in to videotape it, the Navy concluded in a review and analysis session that its search was over.

Cmdr. Oh said that the recovery operation will be undertaken in three stages.

The first stage is to position a crane ship directly above the sunken boat.

In the second stage, about 46 deep-sea divers will take turns attaching tethers to the boat before it is brought up by crane, Cmdr. Oh said.

The trickiest part of the difficult operation is the work to be done by the divers who will operate 150 meters below the surface.

According to diving experts, a ``saturation diving'' method will be used due to the depth of the waters where the divers will have to work.

The divers will have to spend six days in a pressure chamber to accustom them to the enormous pressure of the depths where they will work. Using a personnel transfer capsule, the divers will make their way to the worksite, at which time they will disembark and work for a maximum of one hour per outing, the experts said.
[ Korea Times News ]

[Jan. 7,99] US Navy Personnel to Join Search for Sunken NK Spy Boat

A U.S. military rescue team will participate in an ongoing operation to locate and recover a North Korean spy boat that was sunk by the ROK Navy in an exchange of fire in high seas off the South Coast last month.

Col. Hwang Dong-kyu, spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), yesterday told defense correspondents, ``A U.S. team, led by Lt. Cmdr. Skorger Boe from the U.S. 7th Fleet, will visit Korea tomorrow to help the ROK Navy recover the 10-ton spy boat that sank to the bottom in an exchange of fire Dec. 18 after trying unsuccessfully to infiltrate coasts near Yosu, Cholla-namdo.''

Col. Hwang said Lt. Cmdr Boe will take a tour of the site and, depending on the results of his inspection, will ask for the equipment needed to locate the semi-submersible. The U.S. officer previously participated in a successful salvage operation to recover a U.S. F-16 fighter that crashed in the East Sea.

Over the past three weeks, the ROK Navy has been conducting a salvage operation to retrieve the sunken spy boat using a frigate, a mine sweeper and a salvage boat, but has so far failed to locate the communist boat.

The ROK JCS said that in a close undersea examination of the one-mile square area within which the the boat was sunk, about 30 suspicious objects were found, but that they all turned out to be rocks and parts of the sea bottom.

In a perimeter search outside the 1-mile radius area, an additional 30 plus ``targets'' were found. Those objects are currently being examined, the JCS spokesman said.
[ Korea Times News ]

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