October 05, 2009 11:30
The Air Force's F-15K fighter jets carried some digital map information that is at odds with their mission to defend the country, it has emerged. The jets carried digital maps that referred to Korea's Dokdo Islets either by their Japanese name "Takeshima" or as "Liancourt Rocks," the East Sea as "Sea of Japan," and Mt. Baekdu in Chinese as "Changbaishan" -- all names that are red rags to many patriotic Koreans.
This was revealed by Grand National Party lawmaker Kim Jang-soo, a former defense minister, in a questionnaire distributed Sunday prior to a parliamentary audit of the Defense Ministry.
According to data the Air Force submitted to Kim, the information was ironically found in digital maps carried by F-15Ks mobilized for an exercise to defend Dokdo between July 29 and Aug. 1, 2008. It said the commanding general of the Air Force Operations Command ordered the wrong information corrected and revised digital maps were distributed in February this year.
Korea bought 40 F-15Ks worth W4.5 trillion (US$1=W1,176), or W100 billion each, between 2005 and 2008.
The error occurred because Boeing, the manufacturer, used digital maps made by the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the Korean Air Force did not check this in the process of procurement.
The Army geospatial-intelligence corps, which is in charge of making maps for the Korean armed forces, has asked the U.S. on as many as nine occasions at bilateral geospatial-intelligence conferences since 2002 to correct the misnomers, "Takeshima" and "Sea of Japan," but to no avail.
"Considering that the country is expected to procure 20 more F-15Ks from next year, we should clarify our firm determination that such an incident cannot be repeated."
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