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South Korea launches new military technology agency

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on 21 May the formal inauguration of its new agency to support the development of the country’s defence technology and industry base.

DAPA said the remit of the Korea Research Institute for Defense Technology Planning and Advancement (KRIT) is to modernise the country’s system for defence technology planning and management, strengthen the domestic defence industry, increase the international competitiveness of South Korean military technologies, and support industrial expansion in overseas markets.

Young-il Lim, president of KRIT, told Janes in a recent interview that its mission is to “become the leading research institute for defence technology and defence-industry innovation”. Its core roles, he said, “are to plan, manage, and evaluate future defence technologies and enable the national defence industry to become globally competitive”.

Lim added that a key focus for KRIT in developing capability is supporting the expansion of defence-sector small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This will result in greater levels of competitiveness and, ultimately, advances in capability, he said.

“South Korea has traditionally focused on strengthening its defence industry around large companies; expanding the SME base wasn’t prioritised that much in the past,” he said. Going forward, “KRIT will actively support SMEs in the defence sector, including through the use of defence offsets to expand their capability to supply parts and materials.”

KRIT was formed following a restructure of South Korea’s Defense Agency for Technology and Quality (DTaQ): a body under DAPA that has responsibility for managing the quality of military equipment and defence production activity. KRIT started operations earlier this year but delayed its formal opening due to restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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