South Korea aims to revitalise military exports

by Jon Grevatt

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 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.

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The South Korean government has outlined plans to boost military exports in the face of declining sa...

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