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2.7 tln won set aside to counter North's nuclear, artillery threats

2.7 tln won set aside to counter North's nuclear, artillery threats

The defense ministry will spend 2.7 trillion won (US$2.3 billion) over the next five years to secure tactical weapons to counter threats of North Korea's nuclear and artillery attacks, the state-run procurement agency said Tuesday.

The Defense Acquisition and Procurement Agency (DAPA) held a meeting presided over by Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and approved the 61.4 trillion won budget for the 2013-2017 defense plan that mainly called for bolstering the nation's missile system, officials said. It submitted an earlier version in April.

The revised version centers on increasing spending on two types of indigenously developed ballistic missiles, the Hyunmoo-2A with a range of 300 kilometers and the Hyunmoo-2B with a range of 500 kilometers, for the Army's missile defense command, the DAPA said in a statement.

The ballistic missiles have been developed to extend the reach and offensive capability of South Korea to balance the large number of ballistic missiles deployed by the North.

Pyongyang unsuccessfully tried to launch a rocket in April, which was seen as a long-range missile test in disguise. The international community remains concerned about North Korea's development of ballistic missiles, especially those that can carry nuclear bombs.

In Tuesday's meeting, the DAPA said it gave a briefing on the current status of South Korea's fighter jet program to pick one of the three fighter jets -- Lockheed Martin's F-35A, EADS's Eurofighter Typhoon and Boeing's F-15 Silent Eagle.

With overseas flight tests under way, the DAPA is currently having a second round of negotiations regarding price, technology transfer and set-off programs, DAPA spokesman Baek Yoon-hyun said in a briefing.

"It seems that the flight evaluations will be completed by the end of October as announced earlier this year," Baek said. "But we plan to take our time until we fulfill our goal."

His remarks came as many have questioned whether the government can meet its original October timetable to pick one of the three bidders for the project worth upward of 8.3 trillion won to replace the South Korean Air Force's aging fleets. (Yonhap)