An air-to-surface SLAM-ER missile crashed due to a defective propulsion system during a fire exercise in June but the Air Force covered this up, it emerged Monday. One missile costs US$1.7 million.
According to government officials, the Air Force mounted the missile on an F-15K, its main fighter model, flying over the West Sea on June 15. The missile took the planned trajectory after launch but failed to reach its target and crashed into the sea. The Air Force failed to locate the debris.
One of the government officials said analysis of video data from the launch suggests that the accident was caused by a defective propulsion system.
Two days later, on June 17, the Air Force conducted another SLAM-ER missile fire drill and succeeded. A recent live SLAM-ER missile fire drill was conducted last Wednesday, the first anniversary of North Korea's shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.
Manufactured by Boeing, the missile has a range of about 280 km, the longest among the air-to-surface missiles the Air Force now can install on its fighter jets.