Seoul May Scrap Patriot Missile Buy

(c) K.B. Sherman

The Yonhap News Agency has reported that Seoul’s plan to buy 48 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile systems from Raytheon may be off.

The $ 1.5 billion deal ran into trouble in February, reportedly over terms of payment, according to an unnamed ministry official. South Korea had announced plans to buy 48 of the PAC-3 missile units by 2011.

Raytheon reportedly insisted that 99 percent of the total payment be made by 2007. Seoul is said to have said it wanted to make payment later. Seoul wanted the Patriot PAC-3 to counter the growing threat from Beijing’s theater-class ballistic missiles. PAC-3 is derived from the hit-to-kill Extended Range Interceptor. ERINT, in turn, was an extension of the Flexible Lightweight Agile Guided Experiment (FLAGE), a US program of the late 80s and early 90s that included developing hit-to-kill technology and demonstrating adequate guidance accuracy.

PAC-3 is fired from the same launcher as earlier versions of Patriot, although eight of the smaller PAC-3 missiles are carried in each firing unit, versus four each of the earlier versions.

Raytheon, deep into the just announced developmental work for the Navy’s next generation surface combatant, DD-X, in March announced major layoffs at its Air and Missile Defense Systems (Andover, MA). The company blamed the layoffs on “delays in negotiating the sale of international Patriot missile systems, and lulls in manufacturing demand.”