The South Korean government has outlined plans to boost military exports in the face of declining sales in international markets.
The Ministry of National Defense (MND) in Seoul said on 8 July that a key export strategy will be to leverage the competitive gains made through a continuing emphasis on import substitution.
According to the MND’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), the country’s defence exports in 2019 were valued at KRW1.77 trillion (USD1.48 billion), a year-on-year decline of 11.5%.
Valued at about USD200 million in the mid-2000s, the value of South Korea’s defence exports consistently exceeded USD3 billion a year during 2013–17.
In its effort to boost defence exports South Korea regards the Surion utility helicopter (pictured) produced by Korea Aerospace Industries as a key platform. (Korea Aerospace Industries)
In a meeting in Seoul between the MND and other government ministries, senior officials outlined plans to revive defence exports and ensure that the country’s defence industrial base plays a central role in national economic development.
In the meeting, South Korean Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said in comments published by the MND, “In the post-Covid-19 era, we are pursuing a leader economy that innovates and fosters industrial growth. It is necessary to transition the country’s defence industry into a leader in the global defence market.”
New measures outlined in the meeting included strengthening co-ordination between government ministries in supporting defence exports, and a move to designate specific components currently built for domestic purposes for export markets. The MND said further impetus will also be given to positioning Korea Aerospace Industries’ (KAI’s) KUH-1 Surion twin-engine utility helicopter to meet requirements internationally.