The Korea Herald


DAPA to have open bidding for surveillance drones

By Korea Herald

Published : Dec. 1, 2011 - 20:41

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Acquisition agency stresses it cannot purchase Global Hawk drones for 'exorbitant prices' offered by Washington

 South Korea’s weapons acquisition agency said on Thursday that it would carry out an open bidding process for its high-profile project to acquire surveillance drones.

Defense Acquisition Program Administration also said that it has told Washington that Seoul cannot purchase Global Hawk surveillance aircraft for the “exorbitant prices” it has offered.

Details regarding the bidding process have yet to be determined, officials said. Noh briefed lawmakers on the decision while attending a parliamentary session in October.

“As the U.S. offered a price that is too high, I said to them that we could not buy them for that price,” DAPA Commissioner Noh Dae-lae told The Korea Herald.
(Yonhap News) (Yonhap News)

“I said that if the price is that high, the value of the intelligence that can be gathered by it will not be worth (the price). We will open a bidding process. There is no other way to protect national interests than the open competition.”

The Washington government leading the Foreign Military Sales program has reportedly doubled its initial price for four of the unmanned aircraft to about 1 trillion won ($889 million).

“There are many other planes such as (AeroVironment’s) Global Observer. It is better in some parts. There is also (Boeing’s) Phantom Eye. If we carry out the acquisition project in a competitive manner, lower prices are possible,” he said.

Seoul has sought to deploy four Global Hawk aircraft by 2015 with a budget of 450 billion won ($398.9 million). But the asking price jumped due to decreased demand for the plane caused by the reduced U.S. defense budget.

The Seoul government believes the high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft is crucial to keeping tabs on North Korean movements, particularly after it takes wartime operational control from Washington in December 2015.

South Korea’s military originally set aside around 200 billion won to buy four units in 2007. But the U.S. reportedly asked for 486.2 billion won in September 2009 and raised the price to 940 billion won in July this year.

The single-engine Global Hawk can fly at an altitude of 18 kilometers or higher for 36 hours. With an operational range of 3,000 kilometers, it is capable of covering not only the whole of North Korea but also parts of China and other neighboring countries.

Global Observer with a liquid hydrogen-powered propulsion system can fly at stratospheric altitude for about a week. The Phantom Eye is a hydrogen-powered high-altitude long-endurance aircraft, which can fly at an altitude of 65,000 feet for up to four days.

By Song Sang-ho (

방사청, 무인정찰기 공개 경쟁 추진
 1일 방위사업청은 무인정찰기 도입 추진 계획과 관련해, 글로벌호크와 다른 경쟁 기종까지 포함하는 공개 경쟁을 통해 기종을 선정할 것이라고 밝혔다.

노대래 방사청장은 코리아헤럴드와의 단독 인터뷰에서, 미국이 제시한 “너무 비싼 가격”으로 장거리 고고도 전략 정찰기 글로벌호크를 살수 없다고 미국측에 말했다고 밝혔다.

그는 이어 미국 에어로바이런먼트사의 글로벌옵저버와 미국 보잉사의 팬텀아이 등이 공개경쟁에 참여할 수 있을 것이라고 밝혔다. 아직 구체적인 경쟁관련 일정은 정해지지 않았다.

“글로벌 호크를 미국이 너무 비싸게 제시해서, 그 가격에 못한다고 했다”고 노청장은 말하면서 “가격이 더 이상 높은 것은 거기서 아무리 좋은 정보를 얻어도 정보가치가 그렇게 (그 정도 가치가) 안 된다고 생각한다”고 말했다.

그는 이어 “경쟁 이외에는 국익을 수호하는 방법이 없다.”라고 강조했다.

노청장은 지난 10월에 이미 국회에 이 같은 내용을 설명했다고 밝혔다.

한국은 미국으로부터 전시작전통제권을 반환 받는 2015년까지 글로벌 호크 4대를 구입하려고 추진해왔다. 그러나 미국측은 최초 가격보다 두 배가 넘는 가격을 제시해온 것으로 알려졌다.

군사 전문가들과 군은 독자적으로 북한의 군사활동을 감시하기 위해 고고도 무인 전략정찰기가 필요하다고 주장해왔다.

송상호 기자 (코리아 헤럴드)