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South Korea commits to technology R&D spending increase

South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has said it plans to spend KRW1.48 trillion (USD1.3 billion) on defence technology research and development (R&D) in 2022.

DAPA said on 6 September that the proposed expenditure is a record high and a 76% increase over the defence technology R&D allocation in 2021.

The defence technology R&D budget forms one element of the bigger defence R&D budget, which is KRW4.88 trillion for 2022.

The R&D budget is included in South Korea's proposed 2022 defence expenditure of KRW55.23 trillion. DAPA confirmed that this budget was submitted for approval to the National Assembly on 3 September.

According to DAPA, the defence technology R&D budget has increased by an average 39% each year since 2019. It said these increases reflect South Korea's commitment to supporting the national defence industry.

DAPA Minister Kang Eun-ho said, “Through a sharp increase in R&D investment we will develop cutting-edge, future technologies to build momentum to become one of the world's top five defence industries.”

By way of example, DAPA pointed to South Korea's development of the KF-X fighter aircraft, also known as KF-21. DAPA said that in 2015, in the early stages of the platform's development, it faced challenges because the United States refused to transfer technologies for the aircraft's active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

DAPA said that since then R&D expenditure has been focused on developing local technologies, such as the AESA radar, that will help South Korea reduce its reliance on imports. The KF-21 AESA radar is being developed by Hanwha Systems.

Other elements of the defence R&D budget support the national defence industry and are allocated to DAPA's subsidiary agencies, the Agency for Defense Development and the Korea Research Institute for Defense Technology Planning and Advancement.

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