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07:20 PM, January 7, 2019
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South Korean K30 Biho short range air defence system

Moscow is lobbying against a South Korean anti-missile and anti-aircraft defense system, the K30 Biho which beat two Russian competitors, the Tunguska-M1 and Pantsir in trials for an Indian procurement program.

A South Korean publication, Joongang Daily reported last week that the bidding was first officially announced in 2013, and the candidate weapons were evaluated throughout 2015 and tested in 2017. The contract involves exporting 104 Biho systems, 97 ammunition carriers, 39 command vehicles, 4,928 missiles and 172,260 rounds of ammunition, bringing the contract’s total value to 3 trillion won ($2.66 billion).

The K30 Biho was developed by Korea’s Agency for Defense Development in 2013 as a short range anti-aircraft and anti-missile system. In the bidding process, it beat out an upgraded Tunguska-M1 model built by the Russian state-owned defense company Almaz-Antey and the Pantsir missile system from the Russian KPB Instrument Design Bureau. The K30 Biho was judged the most capable of dual purpose use as an anti-missile and anti-aircraft defense system, the publication said quoting unnamed sources in the Korean government.

The report said that Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu expressed dissatisfaction with the decision on the sidelines of a military conference between the two countries Dec. 18. Shoygu reportedly told the Indians that the Indian military had not properly tested the weapon in a deliberate attempt to not buy arms from Russia, according to a source in the Korean government quoted by the publication.

The Russians followed this up by sending an official request to the Indian Defense Ministry asking it to re-evaluate the bidding process.

“The fact that its weapons were outgunned in the bidding must have come at a major shock to Russia, which prides itself as the leading manufacturer of combined defense systems,” the Korean official said. “We expect them to attempt to block this deal to the end.”

“Various pro-Russian forces within the Indian government are also throwing their weight behind a re-evaluation of the bidding process,” the unnamed source told the Korean publication.

The Korean Defense Ministry and defense contractors have sent their own letters to the Indian Defense Ministry requesting that it streamline the contract negotiation process. The Korean government is also considering dispatching one of its officials to New Delhi to apply some pressure, the report added.

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