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Haz 04, 2017, 02:08 ÖÖ Last Edit: Haz 04, 2017, 02:17 ÖÖ by Sabri Ünal
Sizing up South Korea's defence strategy

Dr Gareth Evans / May 30 2017

South Korea's proximity to both its belligerent northern neighbour North Korea and China has made it a strategic lynchpin for the US and other allies. It's no surprise then that the country is projected to become a major export hub and buyer for new technology. So what are South Korea's defence priorities and who is lining up to sign the contracts?

When you share a backyard with both North Korea and China, and form a key strategic lynchpin for the US and its allies in the region, the need to keep your national defences up to scratch is never likely to be very far from your mind.

Even before the rhetoric being bellowed daily out of Pyongyang had ramped up to its current level, Seoul had announced a 4% increase in its defence budget for 2017, reaching a record 40.34 trillion won ($34bn) - some 10% of the overall national spending. Around a third of that has been earmarked to bolster combat capabilities, with the accelerated timetable for deployment of the 'Kill Chain' strike system and the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) accounting for the lion's share.

Acquisition plans

Relations between North Korea and its southern neighbour - not to mention most of the rest of the world - have taken a definite downturn since the announcement of that budget at the end of 2016, driving the South towards beefing up its anti-missile systems still further.

"Two additional Israeli-made EL/M-2080 Green Pine early warning radar systems look to be on the cards in 2017."

Two additional Israeli-made EL/M-2080 Green Pine early warning radar systems look to be on the cards in 2017, and deployment of the recently delivered US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system is also expected to be completed by the end of the year. In addition, there is also to be an increase in defence R&D initiatives as set out previously in the Ministry of National Defence (MND)'s medium-term plan.

All this joins existing, multi-billion dollar acquisition plans that include naval combat helicopters, maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft, upgrading to the PAC-3 missile system and extensive improvement to the country's fighter jet fleet.

Offsets and exports

It continues a general trend that has, for several years now, seen South Korea consistently ranking in the top four or five of the world's largest importers of defence equipment and technology - but there is another side to this, and one which forms an important strand in the Republic of Korea's (RoK) strategy for staying ahead. Much of the long-standing investment in foreign arms technology, most of it from the US, that has helped Seoul face up to the threat from the north has also been used to good effect to bolster a growing domestic sector.

Starting back in 1982, and then originally intended to boost Korea's aerospace industry, a strong 'offset' obligation policy applies to arms deals valued at $10m or more which requires foreign suppliers or contractors to offset at least half of the cost of the project through technology transfer, or by using locally sourced parts or manufacturing facilities. As a result, the RoK has secured valuable knowledge from some of the world's major defence primes, and subsequently leveraged it both at home, and now increasingly on the export market.

Taking on the world

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) put South Korea in 26th position among the world's top weapons exporting nations for 1996; just ten years later it had risen to 17th and by 2016 it ranked 9th.  According to the latest figures available, a total of seven RoK companies now make it into the top 100 arms-producing companies in the world, three of which appeared on that list for the first time as recently as 2015. US Government data shows that in 2014 alone, 137 South Korean defence companies exported an increasingly diverse inventory of products to a total of 87 countries, including some in Europe and South America.

With the emphasis heavily on supporting home-grown technology development and the R&D budget set to rise from its 2015 level of 6.5% to exceed 9% by 2021, and ultimately hit 15% beyond then, that export drive will be unlikely to show many signs of slowing. Many now tip South Korea to eclipse China as the leading arms exporter on the Asian market, possibly as soon as 2020.

The impetus towards this has certainly been building. South Korean engineering talent has been steadily making significant inroads into the global defence market, building a range of systems capable of competing with the best in the world - and it seems there is no shortage of countries lining up to buy them.

Naval expansion

Given the RoK's long-established, world-class shipbuilding industry, it is little surprise that the country's shipyards have been playing a significant part in the story, both domestically and on the wider stage. The latest Korean warship designs, such as the Dokdo-class amphibious assault ship and the Sejong the Great-class (also known as KD-III) guided missile destroyer, may have arisen to serve the country's new, more expansionist phase of naval activity, but they have also put its shipyards firmly on the procurement radar of other nations, including the UK

"The country's shipyards have been playing a significant part in the story."

In 2012, the Royal Navy chose Daewoo to build four new 37,000-tonne Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) tankers for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in a deal worth £452m - although the arrival of the first of these, RFA Tidespring, in April was some 15 months behind schedule.  However, it seems that other international deliveries have been more timely; in January Daewoo handed over the 3,650-tonne DW3000 Frigate to the Royal Thai Navy in a $410m contract that formed one of the largest in Thai history, and a second order is also rumoured to be under consideration.

India is also looking to RoK shipbuilders to meet its needs. In April, the two governments signed a memorandum of understanding that will see five fleet support ships built for around $1.5bn. Another contract, worth three times that amount, is also at an advanced stage of negotiation that will partner South Korea's Kangnam Corporation with Goa Shipyard to build twelve mine counter measure vessels, with the conclusion of the deal expected by the end of the year.

Land systems

Korea's new, lightweight K21 infantry fighting vehicle.

The Republic of Korea has also gradually been making headway with land systems, particularly with co-production and technology transfer deals of its own.

In April, India announced that 100 tracked, self-propelled artillery guns are to be jointly built by Korea's Hanwha Techwin and Indian company Larsen & Toubro, while Turkey expects production of the new Altay main battle tank - derived from Hyundai Rotem's XK-2 Black Panther - to begin shortly.

Looking further ahead, Korea's new, lightweight K21 infantry fighting vehicle from Hanwha Defense Systems also seems likely to attract some interest on the export market.

Golden Eagle

It is a similar story for the aerospace sector, which has been providing KT-1 turboprop basic trainers to a number of countries, notably Turkey and the Philippines, and fielding the T-50 Golden Eagle family of supersonic trainer and lightweight fighter aircraft on the international market. The Golden Eagle is already in service with the RoK, Indonesia, Iraq, the Philippines and, shortly, Thailand; and a number of other countries are also eyeing it, either to replace their ageing jet trainers, or in preference to considerably more expensive alternative, high-end combat aircraft.

How many of those turn into actual procurement purchases remains to be seen, but the interest generated to date makes the point that, for many smaller nations especially, South Korea's mix of capability and keen pricing - from aircraft to artillery - makes for a particularly strong sales pitch.

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Prototype of KF-X Jet Radar Unveiled

Date: 13 July 2017

Researchers of Hanwha Systems check the first prototype of an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system during a media event at the defense company's research center in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, Thursday. Once developed, AESA radar will be installed in Korea-developed fighter jets scheduled to be completed by 2026. (photos : Yonhap, KJClub, Chosun)

Korean defense company Hanwha Systems unveiled its first prototype of a radar system for the country's self developed fighter jets, Thursday.

The first prototype, comprised of an antenna and power supply, has been produced to verify whether or not the nation is able to go forward with the development of active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar with domestic technology, according to the Agency for Defense Development (ADD).

The development of AESA radar is part of the 8.5 trillion won ($7.5 billion) KF-X project to build 4.5-generation indigenous fighters by 2026 to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of F-4s and F-5s. The government will invest an additional 10 trillion won ($8.8 billion) to produce 120 aircraft by 2032.

The ADD is supervising the development of the radar, essential equipment that helps a pilot identify friend or foe in battle and finds targets on the ground.

Hanwha Systems, previously Hanwha Thales, was selected in April last year to manufacture the radar system.

The company showed the prototype to journalists at its research center in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, during which it gave a demonstration of a transmitting electric wave.

"Based on the first prototype, we will continue to work to develop the final version the KF-X will be equipped with," said an ADD official, asking not to be named.

The official noted that a committee meeting was held June 28 and 29 to check whether to proceed with domestic development.

"The committee members concluded that the nation can consistently proceed with development," he said.

The ADD plans to send the first prototype to Israel's Elta Systems, which signed a deal on technical assistance, for ground and air trials in September.

The official added that the agency, together with the defense arm of Hanwha Group, is also developing software for the radar system.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), which is overseeing the KF-X project, earlier noted that once the AESA radar is developed, it will be integrated with the KF-X in cooperation with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the nation's sole aircraft manufacturer that signed the KF-X contract with DAPA.

Seoul was originally planning to receive AESA radar technology from U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin, but the plan foundered after the U.S. government decided to block Lockheed from transferring four core technologies used in F-35 fighter jets ― infrared search and track, electronic optics targeting pod, radio frequency jammer and AESA radar ― to Korea for security reasons.

Following that hitch, DAPA said it would develop the technologies domestically.

But some critics still express skepticism about the feasibility of domestic development.

(Korea Times:

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Tem 16, 2017, 11:03 ÖS Last Edit: Tem 16, 2017, 11:12 ÖS by Sabri Ünal
Indonesia Selects DSME (Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering) for Submarine Overhaul Contract Mesajı Paylaş
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S. Korea's KF-X Fighter Taking Shape, Final Design due in 2018

Date: 15 July 2017

KFX C-103 series (image : Daum)

SEOUL, July 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will complete the design of its own advanced fighter jet by the first half of next year, with another key task well under way to develop an AESA radar system in the KF-X project, the country's arms procurement agency said Thursday.

South Korea floated a plan in the 2000s to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of F-4 and F-5 jets, and formally launched the 8.8 trillion-won (US$7.7 billion) KF-X program in early 2016. Indonesia is a junior partner, sharing 20 percent of the total cost.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) aims to round off the aircraft development by 2026 for two years of test operations to follow. It plans to introduce some 120 KF-X fighters.

"We are working on the shape design. It will be done by June 2018," a DAPA official said. "It will be final. There is little chance of a change."

South Korea is also focusing on developing an indigenous AESA radar, a core element for the envisioned 4.5-generation stealth combat jet. AESA stands for active electronically scanned array.

In 2016, the state-run Agency for Defense Development (ADD) signed a contract with Hanwha Thales, a local defense firm later renamed Hanwha Systems, for the manufacturing of the radar. The ADD has a separate deal for assistance from Israel's Elta Systems on testing a prototype.

Hanwha said it has produced the first prototype of the radar meant to demonstrate whether it's able to proceed with the development of a system suitable for KF-X jets.

South Korea is also seeking to purchase major weapon systems for the KF-X aircraft, especially for air-to-air engagement, from the United States or Europe.

The U.S., however, has been reluctant to provide information on some high-profile weapons, officials said.

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S. Korea close to developing 'blackout bomb'

SEOUL, Oct. 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has secured technologies to build a non-lethal graphite bomb which can paralyze the North's power systems in case of war, military sources said Sunday.

The so-called "blackout bomb" works by spreading chemically treated carbon graphite filaments over electric facilities to short-circuit and disrupt the power grid.

The weapon has been developed by the Agency for Defense Development as key part of South Korea's pre-emptive strike program called Kill Chain.

"All technologies for the development of a graphite bomb led by the ADD have been secured. It is in the stage where we can build the bombs anytime," a military official said.

The defense ministry had requested next year's budget include 500 million won (US$436,000) for the project but the finance ministry did not accept it, he added.

The bomb is often referred to as a "soft bomb" since it only affects targeted electrical power systems. It was first used by the U.S. against Iraq in the 1990-1991 Gulf War and again by NATO against Serbia in 1999.

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Corruption Scandal Shakes Up KAI's Vision for $10bn US Project

The Korea Herald; published Sept 19, 2017; By Cho Chung-un

The South Korean government fears the corruption scandal that has engulfed Korean Aerospace Industries could derail Lockheed Martin bid for the US Air Force's T-X program, which is based on KAI's T-50 Golden Eagle jet trainer. (LM photo)

Until last year, Korea Aerospace Industries, the nation's sole aircraft manufacturer, was riding high on the expectation of its increased entries into foreign markets with homegrown choppers and jets.

Speaking proudly of KAI's fast technological advancement, then-CEO Ha Sung-yong told investors on Jan. 28, 2016 that the company aimed to become one of the top 15 aircraft manufacturers in the world by 2020. Its joint venture with US defense giant Lockheed Martin on the US Air Force's trainer program, codenamed "T-X," was a key to achieving the goal.

Despite its confidence at the time, the company has been backtracking since becoming mired in a corruption scandal. A few executives are suspected of accounting fraud and manipulating costs in manufacturing the multipurpose helicopter called Surion.

On Thursday, former CEO Ha was questioned by the prosecution, which believes that Ha -- a suspect -- gained illicit profits worth 10 billion won ($8.85 million) by inflating the prices of parts of the T-50 and FA-50 delivered to the Korean Air Force.

Since the investigation began in July, KAI's stock value has been plummeting. The company hit a low on Aug. 14, reaching 35,750 won per share. The price has bounced back to the 46,000 won level this week, but uncertainty remains, said Lee Jae-won, an analyst at Yuanta Securities, citing delays of projects.

"We assume the Surion and the maintenance and repair operations program will be suspended and KFX sales growth may slow after the changes to the treatment of advance payment," he said.

The biggest concern appears to be the company losing its credibility overseas, a crucial factor in business-to-government deals.

The upcoming T-X project is reportedly to be announced by the end of this year. US President Donald Trump's election win was regarded as favorable for KAI, as Texas -- a US state where Trump won a majority vote -- is home to Lockheed Martin.

The Korean company said that it expects to generate around 38 trillion won of revenue if it wins its bid. During his official trip to the US, Korean President Moon Jae-in also reportedly requested Trump support the Lockheed-KAI venture, though he did not receive an affirmation from his US counterpart.

But the investigation into KAI could possibly affect the US government's decision on the project, according to industry insiders.

Under the US public procurement law, the government is obliged to check the business integrity and honesty of contractors during the bidding process, they said.

The scandal itself has not led to any cancellations of KAI projects. But the governments of Indonesia and Thailand, which signed contracts with KAI, are said to have expressed concerns over the prosecution's probe into the company. Lockheed Martin's spokesperson in Seoul declined to comment.

Along with the credibility issue, KAI could also be suspended from trading its shares or delisted from the market if the prosecution or the state-run audit agency prove that executives including Ha had inflicted financial damages more than 2.5 percent of its net worth.

But the chances of the company being kicked out from the market are low, as there is no fresh evidence to prove their wrongdoings, said Lee Bong-jin, an analyst from Hanhwa Investment and Securities in a report. "If the prosecution found nothing new from the investigation, it is unlikely that the company will be delisted," he said.

KAI is expected to gain momentum with a new CEO as well as the announcement of the T-X project in December, the analyst added.

The company has not begun looking for a new leader since Ha voluntarily stepped down in July.

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