A German-based defense company will offer to sell its cutting-edge air-to-ground stand alone cruise missiles to Seoul at almost half its 2009 initial offering price of 3.6 billion won ($3.4 million), multiple sources said Sunday.
An industry source said TAURUS Systems GmbH (TSG) has decided to lower the price of a TAURUS missile to 2.2 billion won to overcome challenges that non-U.S. companies face in entering Korea's growing defense market.
"We acknowledge barriers in entering the Korean market as the United States, which has roughly 28.500 troops here, continues to exert political influence over military purchase deals," he said.
He also noted that TSG has expressed its intent to cut the price partly because of Korea's willingness to increase the number of purchases from 177 to 200.
Korea has attempted to introduce long-range, precision air-to-ground missiles since 2008 to allow its F-15 K fight jets to destroy North Korean ground targets, such as nuclear facilities and artillery hidden in caves.
The plan, however, has been indefinitely postponed due to the U.S. government's refusal to sell Lockheed Martin's Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM), a rival to the TAURUS.
Lawmakers recently raised questions whether Korea should continue to wait for Washington's approval for the sales of the JASSM despite the latter's unwillingness to sell the cruise missile.
"The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) is lying. It should not deceive the people and lawmakers," Rep. Kim Jong-tae of the ruling Saenuri Party said in a meeting of the National Assembly Defense Committee on Nov. 5.
"This (DAPA) report claims the U.S.-made JASSM is cheaper compared to the one made in Germany."
The former chief of the National Security Command under the defense ministry pointed out that the United States agreed to sell the JASSM to Finland at $3.55 million per unit in late 2011.
"Why does this report says the JASSM is $700,000 per missile?" he questioned DAPA officials over what he claimed was a misleading report apparently written in favor of the United States.
He stressed that the JASSM is even more expensive than the TAURUS contrary to the false perception that DAPA has allegedly created to delude the public.
An official from TSG argued that TAURUS has double penetration depth compared to any other airborne stand-off weapon, including the JASSM.
"The TAURUS with its tandem war-head is a true bunker-buster, the combination of a shaped-charge precursor and a penetrator affords it more than twice the penetrating power of the JASSM."
He underlined that the TAURUS has a greater survival rate than the JASSM.
"The Pentagon was incensed enough to halt production when the reported reliability of the JASSM was just 58 percent," he said.
"TAURUS comes closer to or surpasses the design goal of 98 percent."
He pointed out the two systems differ in their survivability _ the JASSM relies solely on its low observable characteristics, flying high and level to its target.
The TAURUS blends the low-observable features with a nap-of-the-earth flight profile, routinely flying 30 to 50 meters above the ground, staying out of sight of enemy radars."
Another industry source claimed that Washington has refused to sell the JASSM due to technical difficulties in integrating it onto the F-15K, a variant of Boeing's F-15 Slam Eagle.
Earlier, DAPA admitted that the F-15K is unable to carry the JASSM under its left wing, without clearly specifying how the airborne missile can be loaded on the other wing without limitations.