By Lee Tae-hoon
Lawmakers of the National Assembly’s Defense Committee Monday criticized flaws found in weapons and other military equipment developed in the country, often with an aim to export them.
Some even expressed concerns that the country may suffer a security loophole if the government’s drive to promote the development of indigenous military products sags the country’s military readiness.
“Korea is seeking to develop all types of weapons, except high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles, even after having screwed up with K-series military equipment,” Rep. Yoo Seong-min of governing Grand National Party (GNP) said. “Who will take responsibility if war breaks out in five or 10 years later and hardly any of our high-tech weapons are functional?”
Rep. Song Young-sun of the minor opposition Future Hope Alliance shared Yoo’s view and urged the Defense Acquisition Program Agency (DAPA) to consider giving up some of its ambitious projects, such as a plan to develop its indigenous attack helicopters.
The lawmaker claimed that defects were found in eight of the 22 K-11 airburst assault rifles that Korean troops dispatched to Afghanistan and United Arab Emirates use.
She noted that nearly half of the latest domestic assault rifles in operation have been found to have a defect in the fire control system.
The DAPA acknowledged the problems in the K-11 rifles.
A senior official of the arms procurement agency said the DAPA plans to resume deploying a new airburst assault rifle in November after fixing technical problems with its fire control system and laser range-finder.
The K-11 dual-caliber rifle has been issued to the Army since June last year.
However, problems with the fire control system caused some rifles to miss targets.
South Korea spent 18.7 billion won ($16.7 million) to develop the indigenous K-11 under a project launched in 2000.
The military plans to distribute the new rifle to each squad by 2018 with a budget of 448.5 billion won.
Meanwhile, Rep. Kim Hak-song of the GNP claimed that of the 8,046 bulletproof lifejackets that the Navy purchased from 2006 from a local company, more than 4,000 have been dumped in warehouses due to defects. .
He also noted that a deal to export K-2 Black Panther tanks to Turkey is experiencing difficulties due to defects in the domestically developed battle tank.
Korea’s weapons exports hit a record high of $1.2 billion last year, up about 2 percent or $20 million from 2009.
Seoul is planning to revamp its arms industry with an ambitious goal of increasing arms exports to $4 billion by 2020.