S. Korea partners with Saudi Arabia for mid-to-long-term defense cooperation

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : February 5, 2024, 16:50 Updated : February 7, 2024, 08:51
Courtesy of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration
[Courtesy of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration]

SEOUL -- Through a joint committee, South Korea's arms procurement agency will collaborate with Saudi Arabia on mid-to-long-term defense development plans. The task force will consistently carry out research and development projects to advance technology and industry in the defense sector for both nations.

During South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol's state visit to the Middle Eastern country in October 2023, Yoon reached a consensus with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to deepen the bilateral strategic partnership. Among the agendas that were discussed between Seoul and Riyadh, a military arms provision project, including anti-air defense systems and firepower weapons, was one of the main focuses.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said the agency has signed a mid-to-long-term agreement with Saudi Arabia's defense ministry to cooperate in the two countries’ defense industry and technology. The two sides will form a joint working group for researching, developing, and producing weapon systems.

"We hope that the partnership will solidify the future-oriented strategic partnership relationship between the two countries. It will serve as an opportunity to enhance practical cooperation in the defense industry by contributing to the strengthening of friendly relations and the promotion of mutual benefits," DAPA Minister Eom Dong-hwan said in a statement on February 5.

In February 2023, South Korea unveiled its plan to invest 1.5 trillion won ($1.1 billion) to develop defense technologies under a private-military cooperation project by 2027. The country's arms exports reached $17.3 billion in 2022, marking a fivefold increase compared to the average defense exports for the preceding five years. This spike was driven by the country securing large-scale export deals, including contracts with Poland to supply K2 battle tanks, K9 self-propelled howitzers, and FA-50 light attack aircraft.
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