25 Februari 2010
P-3CK maritime patrol aircraft (photo : KDN)
The Navy will acquire the first three of the eight planned P-3CK maritime patrol aircraft from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) after a delay of nearly one and a half years due to systems integration and redesign problems.
The last hurdle for their delivery was cleared earlier this month as the U.S. government approved export restrictions on key electronic warfare equipment for the P-3CK, according to KAI and Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) officials.
The P-3CK is one of the new variants of the U.S. P-3 Orion maritime aircraft developed in the 1960s. KAI, South Korea's only aircraft developer, has been in charge of remodeling the older aircraft since 2005.
L-3 Communications Integrated Systems of the United States is a subcontractor that provides system modernization and a service life extension program.
The ceremony to mark the delivery of the three planes will be held at a navy unit in Pohang, about 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul. According to the KAI, the remaining planes will be handed over to the Navy by the end of June.
The Navy expects the new fleet of P-3CK aircraft to boost its maritime surveillance and strike capability against North Korean targets to a great extent.
"The P-3CK is capable of conducting various operations on anti-submarine/anti-ship missions, as well as on early warning and information gathering," a Navy official said.
Key upgrades for the P-3CK include a multi-purpose radar capable of detecting fixed and moving targets on the ground, high-definition electro-optical/infrared cameras, digital acoustic analysis equipment and a magnetic anomaly detector, he said.
The aircraft is also armed with Harpoon Block II air-to-ground missiles and a real-time tactical information transmission system interoperable with the KF-16 fighter jet, said the official.
"North Korean coastal artillery and missile launchers could be neutralized by the Harpoon missiles fired from P-3CKs," the official added.