The Korea Herald


S. Korean defense companies deny rumors of U.S. technology theft

By Korea Herald

Published : Nov. 21, 2011 - 20:05

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South Korean defense companies on Monday denied recent rumors that they’re under investigation by U.S. intelligence officials for allegedly stealing key U.S. weapons technologies.

The companies, including shipbuilders like Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, told the Defense Acquisition Program Administration that they have never attempted to copy or steal U.S. technologies, DAPA officials told reporters.

“We’ve checked with each and every related defense company,” said Oh Tae-shik, head of the DAPA’s program management agency.

“They’ve confirmed that there has been no investigation from the U.S. or any mishandling of U.S. technologies on their part.”

Oh explained that if a U.S. government agency wanted to look into South Korean firms, it would have officially asked for cooperation from the South’s government, but there has been no such request.

Local media reports last week said the U.S. had sent intelligence officials to South Korea to see if South Korean weapons developers had used some core U.S. technology in their products. These stories emerged after Seoul and Washington investigated a suspicion that South Korean technicians had disassembled the Tiger Eye sensors suite in the South Korean Air Force’s F-15K fighter.

The DAPA had earlier concluded the investigation found no evidence of disassembly. Navigation systems and targeting pod devices inside the Tiger Eye contain U.S. military technology, and the contract between the two countries stipulates that South Korea must not disassemble the product.

But rumors of unauthorized meddling with other weapons using U.S. technology haven’t abated since October. Multiple military sources told the Yonhap news agency last week that the U.S. had alleged that South Korea had stolen American technology for three pieces of equipment, including a multiple rocket launcher system and an electronic jamming device.

Oh said Monday that builders of these pieces of equipment confirmed with the DAPA that they have never made any unauthorized use of U.S. technologies.

“With the Aegis combat systems used on destroyers, we’re building them in South Korea with U.S. technicians on hand as supervisors,” Oh said. “These technicians have said they’ve experienced no problem in technology control.”

A senior defense ministry official said while no major issues have been uncovered this time, officials will continue to caution defense contractors of the pitfalls of technology theft.

“Stealing technology and thus intellectual property is obviously a criminal action,” said Kim Young-min, head of the ministry’s military force and resources management. “We will prepare measures to clearly identity origins of technologies used in local weapons systems.” 

(Yonhap News)