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South Korean supplementary budget cuts USD1.2 billion from defence

Janes Defence Budgets forecasts that South Korea's military expenditure will dip in 2022 before climbing again to reach about USD65 billion by the end of the decade. (Janes Defence Budgets)

A supplementary budget law approved by the South Korean National Assembly in late May has reduced the country's defence funding for 2022 by more than KRW1.5 trillion (USD1.2 billion), official documents have revealed.

The cut, made as part of an additional funding package intended to alleviate the impact of continuing the Covid-19 pandemic suppression measures on small businesses, brings the country's annual defence funding down to KRW65.95 trillion. Although still larger than 2021's spend in nominal terms, taking into account the effects of inflation, this represents a real year-on-year cut of 1.4%.

Budget reductions are split across the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and the Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), with the former absorbing the bulk of the reductions. The MND's core budget has dropped to KRW951.9 billion since the start of the financial year, taking its โ€˜core' funding (excluding special accounts and veterans' affairs) down to KRW36.97 billion.

While amendments to the MND budget are greater, their impact falls largely on funding for the improvement and operation of military facilities, as well as the maintenance of existing military equipment. By contrast, cuts to DAPA's budget are felt mainly by equipment acquisition programmes across all domains.

However, the cuts are spread relatively thinly across South Korea's large number of procurement programmes, meaning that most individual reductions are relatively small. The largest drops in South Korea's 2022 funding for platforms are in the aircraft acquisition budget, which sees KRW228.6 billion in reductions, including KRW135.9 billion removed from the P-8A maritime patrol aircraft programme.

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