South Korea’s Ministry of National Defence (MND) has announced a 2021 defence budget of KWR52.84 trillion (USD48 billion).
The proposed expenditure amounts to a 5.4% increase over the KRW50.15 trillion allocation in 2020.
The new defence expenditure follows a year in which the South Korean economy fell into recession, due to the impact of Covid-19, but also subsequently responded strongly, reporting GDP growth in the most recent quarter.
In a statement on 2 December the MND said that the 2021 defence budget includes KRW35.84 trillion for military operations and expenses, which it said is a 7.1% increase over 2020. Funding for force modernisation, including procurement and research and development (R&D), will receive KRW16.96 trillion in 2021, an increase of 1.9%.
South Korea has announced a 7.1% increase in its defence budget for 2021, with some of the funding allocated to programmes including the procurement of Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter aircraft. (DAPA)
The MND said that funding for operations and expenses would be focused on supporting defence operations, education and training, improving personnel welfare, and reinforcing the Republic of Korea (RoK) Armed Forces’ responses to non-traditional threats including infectious diseases and terrorism.
It added that the allocation for force modernisation grew only modestly compared with the increase in 2020, which was 8.5%, because some “large-scale procurement projects – such as the F-35 – entered their final stages”. The MND agreed to procure 40 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter aircraft in September 2014 for a cost of USD7 billion. First deliveries took place in March 2019.