The South Korean military’s deployment of a three-axis defense system against North Korean nuclear and missile attacks will not be completed by 2022, lawmaker Kim Hack-yong said on Tuesday.
The three-axis system includes the Kill Chain pre-emptive strike program, Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD), and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) systems, and its completion is essential if wartime operational control (OPCON) is to be transferred to Seoul in the near future.
The Moon administration has pledged to regain OPCON from the U.S. “expeditiously,” but Tuesday’s revelations suggest that just over half of the three-axis system will be completed by the end of the current President’s term.
“Only 58.1 percent of the Korean-model three-axis system can be completed by 2022 which is the last year of the current government,” Kim said in a written press release.
Kim – also a member of the National Assembly’s defense committee – made the comments after examining the “projects and required funding for the Korean-model three-axis system” submitted by Seoul’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
As of October, DAPA is operating 62 projects related to the three-axis system, of which 26 will, reportedly, not be completed by 2022.
Kim, who represents the main opposition Liberty Korea Party in the National Assembly, also claimed that around 24 percent of the total expense of the project – around KRW 57.8 trillion (USD$ 51.6 billion) – will have to be invested after 2023 due to a lack of funds.
The South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) said in mid-April in its “Mid-term Defense Planning from 2018 to 2022” report that the military had planned to speed up the establishment of three-axis platform to the early 2020s – earlier than the initially planned mid-2020s.
But, Kim said, there were significant limitations to achieving that goal. A plan for spy satellites intended to “detect signs North Korean provocations in the field of Kill Chain”, for example, has been delayed.
The South Korean military also proposed leasing reconnaissance satellites from Germany, France, Italy or Israel to fill the gap, but their offer was turned down by the countries.
Seoul reportedly planned to launch five military indigenous reconnaissance satellites between 2021 and 2023 through what has been dubbed the “425 Project” – which has now been delayed until 2024.
“The project has been postponed for more than three years while the military and intelligence authorities engage in a tug-of-war on who will be the main agent of operation and development,” Kim said in the statement.
13 out of 32 projects in Kill Chain, 5 out of 13 projects in KAMD, and 8 out of 17 projects in KMPR have been either postponed or remain undecided on, according to Kim.
The South Korean government has not decided, for example, whether it will push ahead with a project to develop Standard Missile 3 (SM-3)-class surface to air missiles to be operated onboard naval ships, and is yet to confirm key details about the KMPR development – announced over a year ago.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Ministry of National Defense (MND)
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