Advertisement

Report: South Korea acquired outdated Chinook choppers for $130M

By
Elizabeth Shim
South Korea acquired 14 Chinook helicopters from the U.S. military in 2014, but none of them are fit for deployment, according to a South Korean press report. Photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon/U.S. Army
South Korea acquired 14 Chinook helicopters from the U.S. military in 2014, but none of them are fit for deployment, according to a South Korean press report. Photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon/U.S. Army

Sept. 18 (UPI) -- The South Korean administration of former President Park Geun-hye purchased more than a dozen Chinook CH-47D helicopters at a hefty price tag of $130 million from the U.S. military, but the choppers were 45-year-old models that were neither equipped with navigation nor missile warning systems.

South Korean network JTBC reported Monday the ousted former president, whose impeachment was finalized in March 2017, may have approved the acquisition of helicopters not fit for combat.

Advertisement

The $5 million helicopters, 14 in total, were so outdated they could not be upgraded to meet the standards of current technology, according to the report.

The U.S. military in Korea had used the Chinook choppers, then sold the weapons to Seoul as it prepared to replace them with new and improved models in 2014.

RELATED Trump in NYC for historic week of meetings, U.N. General Assembly address

South Korea's joint chiefs of staff concluded in August they could not guarantee the sustainability of the combat aircraft and decided to exclude them from upgrading operations.

Critical issues with the helicopters include missing GPS-enabled navigation systems, which the U.S. military removed prior to sale.

The helicopters are still without GPS and cannot be deployed in times of bad weather or during maritime operations, according to the report.

Advertisement
RELATED Haley: Diplomacy efforts with North Korea 'pretty much exhausted'

JTBC reported the U.S. military in Korea had said it would provide GPS after the purchase, but never followed through with the agreement.

The helicopters are also missing missile-warning systems that could be critical in times of conflict.

Bulletproof installation is also missing from the floor, and manual control is required for operations that have now been standardized to be automatic on most combat helicopters, according to the report.

RELATED Kim Jong Un promises to complete North Korea's nuclear program

Lee Chul-hee, a ruling party lawmaker with the Democratic Party of Korea, said when the helicopters were "handed over" to Seoul, "they had been thoroughly used."

"If you go somewhere in the United States, they would be used for exhibition purposes," Lee said. "That's what they sold. It's really quite incredible."

There is currently a suspension of sales of U.S. helicopter parts, effective until September 2018, according to JTBC.

Latest Headlines