The South Korea is likely to buy four Boeing's P-8 Poseidon antisubmarine patrol aircraft in the wake of the successful test-firing of a submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) by North Korea last week.
The advanced maritime surveillance aircraft Boeing's P-8 Poseidon costs between $223 to $268 million per jet, the JoongAng Ilbo reported Tuesday.
“North Korea is preparing a number of strategic ways to attack the South using its submarine fleet on top of the SLBM development,” a senior government official said.
“We are discussing whether to purchase the latest maritime patrol aircraft to detect North Korean submarines to prevent surprise attacks from under water.” The official added.
North Korea’s SLBM flew 500 kilometers (310 miles) before falling into waters controlled by Japan last Wednesday. The South Korean military feels the need to expand its surveillance range.
“Although we need to expand the reach of our surveillance in the aftermath of the SLBM success by the North, there are limits with the outdated antisubmarine patrol aircraft currently operated by the Navy,” he added.
South Korea’s Navy has 16 P-3C patrol jets that were developed in the 1950s and introduced in the 1960s. Each P-3C, which runs on four propeller engines, costs about $63.6 million.
One military official said the Ministry of National Defense agreed that additional maritime surveillance aircraft were needed and pushed to buy 12 Lockheed S-3 Viking jets. The S-3 Viking was retired from front-line service by the US Navy in 2009.
The Defense Ministry now is looking at four P-8 Poseidon jets, which can fly 4,500 miles without refueling. They fly at altitudes up to 41,000 feet and speeds up to 490 knots. They are capable of striking enemy submarines immediately upon detecting them with various weaponry means such as air-dropped torpedoes. It has “twice the sonobuoy processing capability and can carry 30 percent more sonobuoys than any maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft currently flying”.
“We need to detect an enemy submarine when it surfaces in our waters. Doing so requires antisubmarine aircraft with wide surveillance coverage and high speeds,” said a Navy official.
“The P-8 Poseidon equipped with the latest detection technology can enhance our operational capability.” The navy added.