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(LEAD) S. Korea to develop indigenous Marine Corps chopper by 2031

All News 18:43 April 26, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS more details in paras 4, 6-12, photo)

SEOUL, April 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea decided Monday to develop an indigenous attack helicopter for Marine Corps operations, the arms procurement agency said.

The defense project promotion committee, presided over by Defense Minister Suh Wook, approved the project, which is to begin in earnest next year and to be completed in around 2031 with a budget of 1.6 trillion won (US$1.44 billion), according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

The new platform is likely to be based on a MUH-1 Marineon, the Marine variant of the country's KUH-1 Surion helicopter, according to officials.

The Marine Corps have wanted foreign aircraft choppers, such as the AH-64 Apache or AH-1Z Viper of Bell Textron, not an armed version of the Marineon.

"We've taken into consideration diverse factors such as the interoperability with the Marineon and the operations and management efficiency," DAPA said in a statement. "The project is expected to enhance our troops' capabilities, particularly in northwestern islands (near the inter-Korean border)."

This file photo provided by the Marine Corps on June 9, 2020, shows its Marineon choppers. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

During the meeting, the government also decided to buy more cargo planes for the Air Force from abroad.

Under the 480 billion won project, DAPA seeks to secure four units by 2026. The exact type of aircraft has yet to be decided, with the C-130J Hercules or A400M Atlas airlifter being on its list.

"Though we are to buy the aircraft from abroad, we require a foreign seller to establish a consortium with local firms so as to promote local defense industries and to create jobs," DAPA said in a release.

The committee also endorsed a plan to purchase Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC)-3 missile interceptors from the United States through a government-to-government foreign military sale (FMS) program.

The 770 billion won project also calls for the improvement of some of the Air Force's PAC-2 missile launchers to fit the PAC-3 interceptors, the DAPA noted. It will be pushed for in 2022-2027.

The government also approved the plan to build 3,600 ton-class advanced submarines with its own technology.

A total of three units will be built by 2029 under the Changbogo III-class Batch-II submarine project with a budget of 3.4 trillion won, which is expected to enhance the country's capabilities for monitoring and deterring potential threats, according to DAPA.

This file photo, provided by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) on Dec. 12, 2020, shows firing drills of the Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC)-3 missile interceptors on March 5, 2018. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

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