Lee administration invests 100 billion Won in Boramae fighter jet development:
Although a decision has not yet been reached on whether to purchase or to develop, this investment would go to waste
Posted on : Dec.2,2009 14:42 KST Modified on : Dec.2,2009 16:09 KST
Although a decision has not yet been reached on whether to purchase or to develop through domestic research the Boramae, a Korean fighter jet, the Lee administration will reportedly be starting the first stage of indigenous development by investing 100 billion Won in exploratory development. The Lee administration’s rush to pursue the projects is causing controversy.
In a report on the Korean aerospace industry’s 10-year development plans reported by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) to an emergency economic committee chaired by President Lee Myung-bak, the Lee administration has reportedly decided that over a three-year period from next year, some 89.8 billion Won will be invested in exploratory development for the Boramae and 19.2 billion Won for the Korean attack helicopter. In this year’s defense budget, 1.4 billion Won had been earmarked for exploratory development for the Boramae in addition to 3 billion Won for the Korean attack helicopter.
The adoption of new weapon systems is divided between foreign suppliers and indigenous development. Since 2001, heated discussions have raged within the government and among research institutions over whether to develop the fighter jet and attack helicopter by purchasing the technology from overseas or by developing them indigenously.
The government has yet to decide on a direction. In spite of this, the Lee administration reportedly plans to push domestic development believing the research and development will have a ripple effect on cultivating South Korea’s aerospace industry and technology, while the research development alone brings high added value. The Lee administration intends to reconsider in earnest on whether to continue with indigenous development after the exploratory research has been conducted.
A government official says that the indigenous development of a weapon systems is divided into the three stages of exploratory development, systems development and production. The official says that if, after the exploratory development stage, planners chose not to go on to the systems development stage, the 100 billion Won invested will go to waste. He says that to go ahead and carry out exploratory research without careful consideration about which direction to push the two projects, and to maintain the attitude of “We should try it first, and if it does not work out, then we need not continue” attitude without careful consideration of the economic and technical feasibility is an irresponsible waste of budget money.
The People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) recently released a statement about the budget decisions for the Korean fighter jet and attack helicopter, criticizing that the administration’s intention was to provide some orders to aircraft lines of certain defense company that have suffered from overinvestment.
The Boramae is meant to replace the Air Force’s aging F-4 and F-5 fighters. The Lee administration is claiming that if the fighter is domestically developed, it will cost a total of 5 trillion Won, but some analysts say it could cost up to 20 trillion Won. The attack helicopter, which is to replace the Army’s old MD 500 attack choppers, is expected to cost about 700 billion Won.
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