South Korea will complete a major upgrade on the home-grown dual-barrel K-11 rifle by the end of 2016, the head of the state defense development agency said Wednesday, after the use of the Army assault rifle was suspended last year due to a glitch in the shooting control system.
"(We) are pushing to improve the K-11 dual-barrel rifle by a large scale before the end of next year in order to turn what has become an ugly duckling into a swan in the shortest time possible,"
Jung Hong-yong, president of the Agency for Defense Development, said in a press meeting.
The K-11 is an assault rifle with dual barrels that fires both 5.56-millimeter rounds and 20-mm air-burst grenades, designed by the ADD, the state agency for weapons development with an annual state budget of 1.5 trillion won (US$1.3 billion).
Since a major defect was found in the shooting control system in September last year, the production and use of the K-11 rifle have been suspended, including about 900 units that had already been distributed to the Army.
Even before last year, the assault rifle had defects in many other parts, including barrel movement during firing and the striking mechanism.
The agency has successfully developed the technology to reduce the shock generated in firing the 5.56 mm rounds by as much as 40 percent and it is also reviewing a design to decrease the shock of launching the 20 mm shells, Jung said.
The envisioned upgrade may cut back by 10 percent the weight of the K-11 rifle, now weighing 6.1 kilograms, he said.
The upgrade is also likely to strengthen the ammunition power of the rifle while modifying it to be better fitting for human use, he also said.
Since its launch in 1970, the agency has replaced 171 of the military's imported weapons with domestically produced ones while developing precise guided missiles against North Korea's military threats, he said, adding that the agency is also nearing the completion of a 2.76-inch guided missile to better respond to North Korea's military threats over the border islands and the capital area.