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South Korea proposes 4.6% increase in 2023 defence budget

The chart shows South Korea's total military expenditure of which the core defence budget is part. Janes Defence Budgets forecasts that the total expenditure will grow to more than USD60 billion by the end of this decade. (Janes Defence Budgets)

South Korea's Ministry of National Defense (MND) has announced a 2023 defence budget proposal of KRW57.1 trillion (USD42.1 billion). It said the new expenditure is a 4.6% increase over the allocation in 2022.

The MND attributed the increase to South Korea's ā€œsevere security situationā€ ā€“ a reference to North Korea's escalating efforts to test and launch strategic missiles.

The MND said the budget comprises KRW17.1 trillion for force modernisation, an increase of 2%, and KRW40 trillion for military operations, a rise of 5.8%.

In terms of modernisation, the MND said a focus of spending will be the government's so-called ā€˜three-axis' defence system, which seeks to bolster the air defence, pre-emptive strike, and the retaliation capabilities of the Republic of Korea (RoK) Armed Forces. The three-axis programme will receive KRW5.25 trillion.

Another focus, it said, will be to ā€œstrengthen operational response capabilitiesā€. To this end, the budget allocates KRW6.64 trillion for a third batch of Hyundai Rotem K2 main battle tanks, additional Ulsan-class Batch III frigates, and to procure ā€œcombat reserve ammunitionā€.

Additional allocations include KRW124.9 billion for medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), KRW129.2 billion to procure additional Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) air-defence systems, and a KRW41.7 billion to acquire 230 mm multiple rocket launchers.

The MND said the budget also allocates KRW1.39 trillion to support the development of advanced military capabilities, including those related to artificial intelligence, electronic warfare, robotics, and automated systems.

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