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South Korea may buy Apache helicopters

A South Carolina Army National Guard AH-64D Apache Longbow lands during the Combined Arms Demonstration during the South Carolina National Guard Air & Ground Expo 2009 at McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover, South Carolina on October 10, 2009. UPI/Roberto Di Giovine/U.S. Army
A South Carolina Army National Guard AH-64D Apache Longbow lands during the Combined Arms Demonstration during the South Carolina National Guard Air & Ground Expo 2009 at McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover, South Carolina on October 10, 2009. UPI/Roberto Di Giovine/U.S. Army | License Photo

SEOUL, April 14 (UPI) -- The South Korean army may buy up to 36 Apache helicopters from the United States worth about $1.84 billion, sources told the Chosun Ilbo daily.

The South Korean defense acquisition program administration, in a report to the National Assembly's Defense Committee, said it wants to buy large attack helicopters to replace the aging 500MD and AH-1 attack choppers, the Chosun Ilbo reported Thursday.

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The newspaper said while the administration did not say which model or give the number of choppers to be purchased, it quoted sources as saying the order could be 36 of the new Apache Block III helicopters, which can support two battalions.

The report said the army had been seeking to acquire the Apache model since the 1990s, but couldn't buy them because of budgetary constraints. But new threats from North Korea, including its shelling of a South Korean island last November, has helped renew interest in the Apache, which could be financed from savings resulting from downsizing ground weapons programs, the report said.

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