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Seoul restructures ADD to stimulate military-technology advances

South Korea's Agency for Defense Development (ADD) has undergone a restructure with a view to improving the development of advanced military technologies. The move is also partly linked to a US-Korea agreement in May that allows Seoul greater freedom to develop ballistic missiles.

The restructure sees the establishment of three specialist centres under ADD – the Missile Research Institute, the National Defense Advanced Science and Technology Institute, and the National Defense Testing Research Institute.

ADD said the reorganisation is intended to enable it to “actively respond to changing external threats”, including weapons of mass destruction. Another driver, it said, is the need to focus on the development of advanced military equipment.

ADD hopes the restructure will enable its researchers to put more emphasis on priority technologies including missiles, space systems, and advanced materials. The agency undertakes research and development (R&D) in these fields, but activity is generally framed by its divisions that oversee land, air, and sea capability.

Under the new restructure, a new defence space technology centre will be incorporated within the National Defense Advanced Science and Technology Institute. Other priority areas are expected to be supported by similar units, while the Missile Research Institute will lead South Korean efforts in deepening tactical weapons capability. Air defence will also be within its remit.

In May, the US and South Korea announced the scrapping of the ‘Revised Missile Guidelines' agreement, which had previously limited the range of South Korean ballistic missiles to 800 km. The scrapping of the accord effectively allows South Korea to develop missiles of unrestricted range.

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