ADD unveils progress report for anniversary

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ADD unveils progress report for anniversary

The Agency for Defense Development (ADD) revealed on Wednesday that it has developed 171 types of weapons systems domestically over the past 45 years since it was founded and is working on producing cutting-edge weapons, including ballistic and cruise missiles.

“The ADD was founded following former President Park Chung Hee’s launch of a self-reliant national defense policy in 1970, and in its early years was busy copying American mortars and rifles through reverse-engineering,” ADD President Jung Hong-yong said at a press conference.

“After 40 years, we have obtained technology to indigenously produce advanced weapons, such as ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, to build up military strength.”

Ahead of its 45th anniversary next week, the ADD, a state-run research agency founded in 1970 to advance defense science and technology, revealed its progress so far and expanded on future projects.

Jung said that weapons developed by the agency, such as the FA-50 lightweight attack jets, K-9 self-propelled howitzers and ship-to-ship missiles, were exported overseas.

Some 16 trillion won ($13.8 billion) was invested into development of these weapons systems over 40 years, in turn injecting some 187 trillion won into Korea’s economy, he added.

But he acknowledged that there was trial-and-error along the way, especially when defects were found in so-called luxury weapons that had been widely touted in the media, like the K-11 dual-barrel rifles.

In 2008, the ADD announced its top 10 advanced weapons, which included K-9 self-propelled howitzers, the K-21 next-generation infantry fighting vehicle, K-11 dual-barrel air-burst assault rifles and the K2 Black Panther battle tank, which all had flaws that led to public skepticism over their quality.

The ADD-designed K-11 dual-caliber rifles, which can fire 5.56-millimeter (0.26-inch) rounds and 20-millimeter air-burst grenades simultaneously, were found to have malfunctions and other critical flaws, leading to the suspension last year of their use.

Jung said that the ADD is working to reduce rifle recoil and lighten the gun by up to 10 percent by the end of next year.

“In order to avoid repeating the trial-and-error process, we have secured increased research capabilities,” Jung said, adding that the ADD plans to contribute to self-reliant national defense capabilities, the economy, science and technology and preparing for a unified Korea.

The agency, however, faces tight resources and for 512 weapons development projects this year, it has secured a budget of 1.5 trillion won, with 2,646 researchers. In 2002, when it had 164 projects, it had around a third of the budget and nearly the same number of researchers at 2,549.

Jung mentioned that it is problematic that technological development ceases once weapons are deployed. He added that the K-2 battle tanks, K-9 self-propelled howitzers and KT-1 basic training jets, which have all been exported overseas for years, must constantly be developed to remain competitive in the global defense market.

BY JEONG YONG-SOO, SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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