, SEOUL, May 21 – A South Korean helicopter operating in Somali waters will be fitted with equipment to protect it from possible missile attacks by pirates, officials said Thursday.
South Korea has dispatched a destroyer carrying a crew of 300 and a Lynx helicopter to join an international naval force off the east African nation.
The helicopter has no proper anti-missile equipment, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. "We will come up with measures to protect it from possible missile attacks from pirates," a spokesman told AFP.
He said the new equipment would include long-range binoculars and flare dispensers capable of diverting heat-seeking projectiles.
The Lynx helicopter has four times scared off boats trying to attack ships since deploying last month, according to Seoul officials.
About 20 foreign warships now patrol the waters to safeguard major shipping lanes.
Pirates attacked more than 100 ships in 2008 off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, raking in an estimated 120 million dollars in ransom money.
So far this year, watchdogs say there have been 114 attempted hijackings.