Seoul Undecided on Missile Choice For Defense Program: Defense Ministry

People's Daily Thursday, November 11, 1999

South Korea denied on November 10 that it had decided to buy US-made Patriot missiles for its new air- defense program. The South Korean Defense Ministry said it has not yet decided to buy any country's missiles for their defense program, which is code-named SAM-X. In addition to the US Patriot missile, Russia and France are also competing in the program.

"It is untrue that we have asked for or decided to purchase the US-made missiles," said a Defense Ministry spokesman. In September, the Defense Ministry invited missile makers from the United States, Russia and French to demonstrate their products. It will take more than one year to finish testing and evaluating the competing missiles, said the spokesman.

The Pentagon Wednesday announced that it had agreed to sell 14 of the latest Patriot air defense systems valued at 4.2 billion U. S. dollars to South Korea to enhance its air defense capability. "The proposed sale will enhance the Republic of Korea's defensive capability against hostile neighbors, lessening the burden on the United States," said the Pentagon in a statement.

The deal, which is subject to review by US Congress, includes a full package of air-defense missiles, radar, fire control stations, electric generators, trucks, trailers, maintenance equipment and other supplies. The US Patriot air defense system named Patriot Advance Capability 3 (PAC-3) made by Raythion Corp. is capable of defending ports and bases against aircraft and short-range ballistic missiles. It is an improved version of the Patriot used against Iraqi Scud missile attacks in the 1991 Gulf War.