South Korea could be allowed to purchase advanced missile defense technology jointly developed by the United States and Israel, according to a Monday report by Defense News (see GSN, Dec. 15, 2011).
The U.S. defense firm Boeing and the government-headed Israel Aerospace Industries, which teamed to develop the Arrow 2 missile interceptor and now its more advanced successor, the Arrow 3, intend to market Arrow technology to Seoul. Boeing would head up the sales talks with the South Korean government, according to senior officials from the companies.
The Israeli Defense Ministry rejected the assertions of the Defense News report, the Israeli business publication Globes reported (Ran Dagoni, Globes, Jan. 31).
A possible Arrow sales contract could top $1 billion and would be negotiated in the final stages by the South Korean and U.S. governments, sources in Tel Aviv said in the Defense News report.
"There's still a long way to go, but we and our Israeli partners are working very persistently to be able to provide this phenomenal capability to South Korea, an important U.S. ally," Boeing Network and Space Systems President Roger Krone said during a December trip to Israel.
South Korea is developing a multilayered missile defense shield as a response to North Korea's growing ballistic missile arsenal.
Krone would not discuss with journalists the likelihood of the South Korean military issuing a call to contractors for missile interceptor proposals, nor would he comment on whether Boeing and Israel Aerospace Industries planned to market to Seoul the fully developed Arrow 2 or the still-experimental Arrow 3.
Insiders pointed out that South Korean defense officials near the end of 2011 began an analysis of missile defense options that encompassed the Arrow 2 but also the U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense and Patriot Advanced Capability 3 systems, and the S-300 and S-400 antimissile systems developed by Russia.
The South Korean Defense Ministry in 2007 purchased 48 secondhand PAC-2 systems from Germany (see GSN, Oct. 25, 2011).
Three years ago, the South bought two Israeli-made Green Pine radar systems that are developed to work with Arrow antiballistic missile technology. The radars are scheduled to go live sometime in 2012.
Thus far, Seoul has not deployed technology capable of intercepting missiles at high altitudes due to worries about upsetting regional security balances, particularly with China. The Arrow 3 interceptor is intended to have the ability to eliminate missiles outside the Earth's atmosphere.
Further out, Israeli defense sources see the potential for Arrow interceptor exports to India (see GSN, Jan. 19).
U.S. Deputy Assistant Defense Robert Scher in a trip this month to India discussed resuming suspended discussions with New Delhi on bilateral missile defense cooperation.
Defense Department spokeswoman Leslie Hull-Ryde said, "We have not discussed ballistic missile defense cooperation since 2008 and are currently focused on a range of other higher priorities. ...However, should India express interest in restarting discussions on (ballistic missile defense), we should be prepared to discuss it."
Jerusalem and Washington have not given the go-ahead for defense firms to begin Arrow sales campaigns in India, sources said.
"If the U.S. government allows ballistic missile defense exports to India, it will represent a very inviting prospect for the IAI-Boeing team,” ex-Israeli Missile Defense Organization head Uzi Rubin. “I don’t see the U.S. refusing us the opportunity to export Arrow if the other U.S. systems are allowed to compete" (Opall-Rome, Defense News).