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(LEAD) Main gun on K1 tank explodes during live-fire drill

All Headlines 15:33 September 06, 2010

(ATTN: UPDATES in top six paras with Army spokesman's quotes, details)

SEOUL, Sept. 6 (Yonhap) -- The barrel of a battle tank gun exploded during a live-ammunition exercise early last month, Army officials said Monday, the latest in a series of similar accidents over the past two decades.

The explosion occurred on Aug. 6 at a military shooting range in Paju, north of Seoul, when a live artillery round detonated inside the K1 tank's 105-millimeter gun barrel, breaking the gun's nose apart, the Army said.

There were no casualties as no one was near the tank at the time, and four crew members inside the tank were also unharmed, it said.

"An investigation is underway to find the exact cause," said Army Col. Um Hyo-shik, adding investigators could determine the cause as early as next month.

The spokesman said the Army has reported nine such accidents involving the K1A1's 105-mm gun since 1993.

"Previous accidents were mainly caused by the entry of foreign substances into the gun's barrel, not by a defective design or faulty materials used in manufacturing the guns," Um said.

The K1 tank has been used as the nation's main battle tank since 1988. An upgraded version called the K1A1 entered service in 1999, equipped with a 120mm gun and more modern fire control systems.

The explosion, which was belatedly made public, is also the latest in a string of military accidents during routine training.

In late July, a noncommissioned Army officer was found dead inside an armored fighting vehicle after it fell into a reservoir during training. The 23-year-old sergeant first class, identified by his surname Kim, was unable to escape. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.


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