October 24, 2007 10:28
The Korean Air Force operated only half of its main KF-16 fighter jet between February and August, analysis by Grand National Party lawmaker Myaeng Hyun-gyu revealed, exposing what he says is a defense vacuum assuming that only half of the 130 jets could be deployed in an emergency.
Myaeng, a members of the parliamentary Defense Committee, released his analysis of data submitted by the Air Force on Tuesday. It shows that in February, May, June and July, the operation rate of the KF-16s was in the 50 percent range. It stood at 70 percent in January, before engine maintenance problems became an issue in the wake of a deadly crash. In February, the figure dropped to the 50 percent range and has been hovering at 50 to 60 percent since.
The Air Force apparently lacks sufficient fighter jets that could make up the shortfall. Myaeng said the operation rate of other fighter jets -- the F-15K, F-4 and F-5 -- also stood at a mere 60 to 70 percent between January and August. However, an Air Force spokesman said although KF-16's operation rate was low, "all of them have no problem taking off. There was no military power vacuum."
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