skip to main content

South Korea cuts 2021 defence budget

The government of South Korea has cut KRW562.9 billion (USD484.4 million) from the country's 2021 defence budget in response to economic pressures stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic. The cuts were contained in a supplementary expenditure approved by the National Assembly in late July.

Janes Defence Budgets (JDB) analysis of data within the supplementary budget, which was issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, shows that the cuts are sourced from 22 procurement and research and development (R&D) projects.

Janes Defence Budgets forecasts continued growth in South Korea's defence budget (Janes Defence Budgets)

Janes Defence Budgets forecasts continued growth in South Korea's defence budget (Janes Defence Budgets)

However, given the scope of some of these projects, the cuts are not deep and are unlikely to severely disrupt procurement and operational schedules. Funding cut from the programmes in 2021 is expected to be reappropriated through defence budgets in subsequent years.

In the 2021 supplementary budget, South Korea's programme to procure Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter aircraft was cut by KRW92.1 billion. Seoul agreed to procure 40 F-35s in 2014 for USD7 billion. First deliveries took place in 2019.

About KRW184.1 billion was cut from several reconnaissance-related projects, including plans to upgrade Link 16 tactical datalinks and a ground-based communications system, whileKRW63.5 billion was cut from naval shipbuilding projects, including the programme to build KDX-III guided-missile destroyers.

Another KRW69.2 billion was cut from weapon projects, including plans to procure additional additional Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptor missiles, while KRW25.5 billion was cut from South Korea's Maritime Operation Helicopter (MOH) Batch II programme.

Funding sourced from the 2021 defence-spending cuts was redirected into a recently approved KRW35-trillion package aimed at providing economic relief from the pandemic. In April 2020 the South Korean government cut about KRW905 billion from that year's defence budget, with funds similarly forwarded to a Covid-19 assistance plan.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...