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South Korea aims high on defence exports

South Korea is pursuing a greater share of defence export markets through sales of platforms such as Hanwha Defense's Redback infantry fighting vehicle. (Hanwha Defense Australia)

South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) is aiming to position the country as one of the world's top exporters within a few years.

DAPA told Janes that its ambition is supported by new investment in military technologies, efforts to restructure the country's defence industrial base, and a strategy to prioritise ‘exportability'.

DAPA also said that South Korea's defence exports in 2020 are estimated by the administration to have reached KRW1.7 trillion (USD1.43 billion), the same value as 2019. In the next few years DAPA is aiming much higher, it said.

“DAPA aims to become one of the top five defence exporters in five years,” a DAPA spokesperson told Janes. “DAPA is pursuing a strategy [that] intends to transform the current RoK [Republic of Korea] defence industrial structure, which is focused on domestic demand, to an export-oriented industry.

“For this goal, the RoK will prioritise the ‘exportability' at the systems-development stage, the early stage of acquisition process, to develop globally operable weapon systems,” said the spokesperson.

According to the spokesperson, DAPA is also seeking to boost defence exports through a transition to a “first mover” culture in which South Korean agencies and industry become leaders in military technologies.

The spokesperson said, “DAPA also seeks to move away from its ‘catch-up' strategy to become a ‘first mover' [that] leads global efforts in developing cutting-edge technologies.”

This target, the spokesperson said, is supported through a plan to increase investment in defence research and development (R&D) for emerging technologies, especially those in the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) domain.

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