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S. Korea moving ahead to introduce Viking anti-submarine planes into service

All Headlines 22:05 September 06, 2015

SEOUL, Sept. 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is moving ahead to introduce refurbished S-3 Viking anti-submarine warfare (ASW) planes to counter threats from North Korea, a military source said Sunday.

The defense ministry insider said the proposal to incorporate 12 former U.S. Navy Vikings into service was approved late last month by a military program review group. The latest development comes after the Navy proposed taking over 20 Vikings that have been kept in storage since 2009 to shore up the country's detection and attack capabilities against Pyongyang's submarine fleet.

The twin-turbofan powered planes served as the primary ASW platforms aboard U.S. aircraft carriers.

Such planes can augment South Korea's 16 four-engined P-3 Orion aircraft fleet as well as helicopters like the Lynx and Super Lynx. They can, moreover, bolster the country's short-range airborne ASW capabilities that have been left vacant after the retirement of the S-2 Tracker aircraft.

The source, who declined to be identified, said the Viking plan will be sent to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration for further assessment before it is approved by the national defense system committee that can give the final go-ahead.

There has been criticism that the S-3 is an outdated platform, but the Navy has argued that these planes are being maintained in "mothballs" and are fully capable of being used.

"Using the planes can give the country the ability to deal more effectively with underwater threats," a naval officer claimed. He added that the S-3s are much cheaper than buying completely new planes.

Although North Korea's submarine force is antiquated, its fleet consists of diesel electric boats that are very difficult to detect when they put to sea. Such boats can threaten both South Korean and U.S. naval ships in times of crisis as well as merchant ships, particularly in coastal waters.

Seoul has said a small North Korea sub torpedoed a South Korean corvette in March 2010, killing 46 sailors.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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