As per President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea, his country has plans of becoming one of the world’s top four weapon suppliers. The President made this proclamation on Wednesday August 16 when he was tending to journalists in a speech marking his first 100 days in office.
“By entering the world’s top four defense exporters after the United States, Russia and France, the (South Korean) defense industry will become a strategic industrialization and a defense powerhouse,” Yoon said at the presidential office.
In 2021, South Korea was ranked 10th in the world in arms transfers, as per the definitive Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
With arms sends out esteemed at $566 million, as per SIPRI’s unique trend indicator value monitoring system, Seoul was well behind last year’s No. 4 exporter, Italy, which sold arms worth $1.7 billion.
For correlation, US arms transfers were calculated to be $10.6 billion. South Korea has proactively done whatever it may take to accomplish its top four desires. Before the end of last month, it marked its greatest at any point arms arrangement to supply Poland with right around 1,000 K2 tanks, in excess of 600 bits of cannons and many contender jets.
In February it also inked a $1.7 billion arrangement with Egypt to supply it with K9 self-pushed howitzers and backing vehicles.
Before the end of last year, South Korea made one more huge arrangement to supply Australia with K9s.
If South Korea meets Yoon’s objective, it will outperform Italy, yet local power China as well as Germany, Spain, Israel and the United Kingdom, as per the SIPRI rankings.
Yoon is largely building on initiatives started under his predecessor, Moon Jae-in, whom Yoon succeeded in May.
Eunwoo Lee, a former translator at the South Korean Defense Ministry, writing in The Diplomat in March, said Moon “changed topography of the nation’s military,” increasing its defense budgets by about 7% a year.
At a defense exhibition near Seoul last October, Moon vowed to innovate “in line with changes in the security environment and technological progress.” The investments begun by Moon are paying off, analysts say.
Writing in the online journal War on the Rocks this week, researchers Peter Lee and Tom Corben of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney said sales like the tanks and warplanes to Poland and howitzers to Australia have already pushed Seoul into the “defense major league” with what they called its “K-arsenal.”
Those systems include the KF-21 fighter jet.
The local supersonic fighter, which had its most memorable effective dry run in July, is supposed to give an increase in about $18.3 billion toward the South Korean arms industry, Yoon said during his 100 days in office speech.
The South Korean K2 tanks, for example, are tantamount to expensive first in class principal fight tanks like the American M1A2 Abrams, said Chun, the former South Korean general.
Meanwhile, questions have been raised about how close Seoul and Washington truly are on key challenges.
For example, after US-China pressures spiked over the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan recently, when Pelosi visited South Korea subsequently, Yoon didn’t meet face to face with her, picking rather for a call. That prompted hypothesis South Korea was doing whatever it takes not to disturb China.
“Even if questions remain over the true extent of South Korea’s strategic alignment with the United States, Seoul is nevertheless generating strategic effects by arming states facing Chinese and Russian coercion,” Lee and Corbin wrote.
Chun said the recently announced sale of tanks to Poland could bring benefits for the South Korean military, too. The K2 tanks in South Korea’s inventory are not as capable as those the Poles will be getting because significant improvements — including better defenses — have been made since the K2s were introduced in 2014, he said.
“I hope this is going to be a catalyst for Koreans. We have 2,000 tanks, but if you have legacy tanks, they’re not worth a thing. We saw this in Ukraine. We need state of the art tanks to overcome state-of-the-art antitank missiles. I’m hoping that this would be a catalyst for that,” Chun said.