Tuesday, October 12, 2010

S. Korea Investigates Malfunctioning Missiles

South Korea's Navy has launched an investigation into problems with three types of naval missiles built by foreign manufacturers, a ruling party lawmaker said Oct. 12.

In 23 test launches over two years, Raytheon SM-2 Standard anti-air missiles, Boeing Harpoon anti-ship missiles and MBDA Sea Skua lightweight anti-ship missiles collectively displayed an accuracy rate of below 80 percent, said Rep. Yoo Seung-min of the Grand National Party, who cited a report submitted by the Navy for a parliamentary inspection.

The tests took place from July 2008 through July 2010, Yoo said.

Three of the nine test-fired SM-2s failed to hit their targets, as did one out of 12 Sea Skuas and one out of two Harpoons.

The Navy concluded that the SM-2 failures were caused by poor control by operators and defects in spare parts, and plans to scrutinize about 130 SM-2s in operation, the report said.

The service concluded that the Sea Skua had failed because of spare part problems, according to the report. Its investigation revealed that the coupling pin on the upper part of the Sea-Skua had defects. The service replaced the coupling pins of some 90 Sea-Skua missiles with new ones. It asked MBDA to repay 1 billion won (about $880,000) for the failed missile, but the British defense firm refused, citing the expiration of a one-year guarantee, according to the report. The report said Seoul's Defense Acquisition Program Administration plans to request the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board to meditate the dispute.

The Navy concluded that the wing parts' malfunction caused the Harpoon failure.

The service asked the U.S. Navy to look into the problem. A joint team of South Korean and U.S. investigators plans to examine 10 Harpoon missiles by year's end, the report said.

"The missiles were introduced on the assumption that their accuracy rates could be nearly 100 percent," a South Korean Navy spokesman said. "We'll look into the problems thoroughly and clarify who's responsible."

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