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Plan to deploy new weapon in trouble

Report says one in 10 low-level officers needs psychiatric counseling


The military has questioned the ability of a new weapon planned for deployment next year to neutralize long-range artillery in North Korea, a lawmaker said Thursday.

According to Rep. Kim Hak-song of the ruling Grand National Party, the Korean GPS Guide Bomb ― the Korean version of the Joint Direct Attack Munition ― falls far short of the operational requirements the Air Force has demanded.

South Korea imported the JDAM from the U.S. but decided to develop its own version as the JDAM is mountable only on F-15Ks and KF-16s, and it has secured only a limited number of the munitions.

Since 2007, the Air Force and the state-funded Agency for Defense Development has carried out the 40.7-billion-won ($34.5 million) project to develop the KGGB. Its plan was to manufacture a total of around 1,600 KGGBs between 2012 and 2017.

The KGGB is mountable on all types of the fighter jets South Korea has. It also has a range of 70 kilometers ― nearly three times longer than that of the JDAM. But its body weighs only 226.8 kilograms and the angle at which it strikes a target object was only 45 degrees.

In order to neutralize North Korean artillery pieces hidden in mountainous caves, the body should weigh at least 907.2 kilograms and have an impact angle of at least 70 degrees, the Air Force has said.

The more perpendicular the impact angle is, the more powerful the bomb becomes, experts say. The impact angle of the JDAM weighing 907.2 kilograms is 89 degrees.

Some experts also said that the GPS system mounted on the KGGB is vulnerable to jamming, and that its inertial navigation system is not very advanced.

“At this point, the plan for the operational deployment of the KGGB would inevitably face trouble. ADD must draw up measures to address this problem quickly,” Kim said.

Meanwhile, a Defense Ministry report showed that one out of 10 low-level military officers needs psychiatric treatment or counseling, raising concerns over whether they can carry out possible combat missions.

According to the report submitted to Rep. Kim Ok-lee of the ruling Grand National Party for the parliamentary inspection, 10.2 percent of the 89,168 officers surveyed in a personality test were rated as “dangerous” or “in need of attention.”

The rating “dangerous” means he or she needs psychiatric treatment while “in need of attention” means he or she needs counseling. Those with ranks of sergeant first class, first sergeant, second lieutenant, first lieutenant and captain participated in the survey.

Among 60,038 sergeant first classes and first sergeants who were questioned, 88.5 percent or 53,095 were rated “fine.” But those rated as in need of attention and dangerous accounted for 7.7 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.

In case of the low-level commissioned officers, those rated as in need of attention and dangerous accounted for 5.6 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.

The ministry has conducted the survey since July after it found the gradual increase in the number of officers committing suicide. The survey is to continue until the end of this year.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)
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