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Defect delays S. Korea's acquisition of Wildcat chopper

All Headlines 17:07 December 01, 2015

SEOUL, Dec. 1 (Yonhap) -- A defect found in the recent testing of the British helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland's Wildcat chopper halted the firm's process of delivering the aircraft to South Korea, the defense procurement agency said Tuesday.

"In the process of performing the factory acceptance test (FAT) for Wildcat last week, a defect was found in the automatic flight system," Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) spokesman Kim Si-cheol said in a briefing.

DAPA sent a delegation to Britain on Nov. 7 to conduct the test, originally scheduled to be finished by this week, but the process was put on hold after the defect was found.

"In accordance with the contract, the DAPA delegation decided to resume the FAT after the company fixes the defect, and then returned home," Kim said, adding that it may take up to six weeks to fix the problem.

In 2013, DAPA ordered eight units of the AW159 Wildcat as part of its 600 billion won (US$518 million) project to purchase warfare helicopters.

The FAT is the initial phase of the three-stage test to see if the helicopters are correctly customized before South Korea acquires them.

The company is doing its utmost to make up for the defect in cooperation with the British government, Kim said.

The latest development is likely to deal another blow to the chopper procurement project, which is already mired in a local ongoing criminal investigation.

Eight military officials have been charged with fabrication of test results in the process to pick the helicopter model for the procurement deal.

Also, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Choi Yoon-hee was questioned late last month on suspicions of peddling influence in the acquisition deal.


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