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S. Korea to buy 2 advanced spy planes from France

Dec. 26, 2011 - 10:41 By

SEOUL, Dec. 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea plans to buy two advanced reconnaissance planes from France by 2015, to allow the military to intercept radio messages from of North Korea, a government source said Monday.

The South's military will replace some of its aging spy planes with the militarized specialty version of "Falcon-2000" jet, produced by France's Dassault Aviation, to keep closer watch on North Korea, the source said on the condition of anonymity.

"The military decided to introduce two Falcon-2000 reconnaissance planes to replace its old spy planes that have a short range and old equipment," the source said.

The decision comes after South Korea's intelligence and military leaders came under fire for failing to detect the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il until the North announced it a week earlier.

Kim, who ruled North Korea with an iron fist after inheriting power from his father and national founder Kim Il-sung in 1994, was reported to have died of a heart attack on Dec. 17.

South Korea's Air Force is currently using a fleet of RC-800s, built by U.S. firm Raytheon, for tactical reconnaissance and surveillance operations.

Deployment of the French spy jets will take place before December 2015, when South Korea is scheduled to retake wartime operational control over its troops from the U.S., the source said.

The U.S. has held wartime command of South Korean troops since the beginning of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. Seoul regained peacetime control of its military in 1994.

About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea as a deterrent against the North and it is no secret that South Korea shares U.S. intelligence on North Korea. The U.S. routinely flies reconnaissance planes along the border and closely monitors the North through its spy satellites.


<한글 기사>

軍, 北통신감청 정찰기 '팰콘' 2대 도입

군당국이 북한 전 지역에서 통신감청 등이 가능 한 프랑스제 정찰기를 도입할 계획인 것으로 알려졌다.

정부의 한 소식통은 26일 "우리 군이 운용 중인 대북 정찰기인 금강(영상정보)ㆍ백두(신호정보) 정찰기가 정찰 거리가 짧고 장비가 낡아 신형 정찰기로 교체키로 했다"면서 프랑스 다소사의 '팰콘-2000' 정찰기 2대를 도입할 계획"이라고 밝혔다.

전시작전통제권이 전환되는 오는 2015년께 한국에 인도될 팰콘은 북한군의 무선 교신을 감청하거나 내부에 장착된 열추적 탐지 장비로 북한의 미사일 발사도 탐지할 수 있는 것으로 알려졌다.

현재 우리 군의 금강ㆍ백두 정찰기 RC-800은 최고 1만3천m까지 상승해 금강산 이북지역까지 영상정보를, 백두산까지 신호정보를 탐지할 수 있으나 장비 성능이 낡아 정찰에 제한이 있는 것으로 전해졌다.

한편 군의 대북정찰 결과, 북한군은 작년 3월 천안함 폭침 이후 남측의 탐지능력을 교란하기 위해 최전방에 방사포와 흡사한 가짜 포와 모의 전차 및 전투기 등을 배치했다.