South Korea Plans Significant Defense Budget Increases
Republic of Korea (ROK) Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung recently said he aims to increase the defense budget to 3.2% of the total gross domestic product by 2008 from the current 2.8%, a 12.5% increase in relative terms even before economic growth is factored in.
Some recent Defense Ministry procurement initiatives include:
- The ROK will deploy 40 F-15K Strike Eagles by August 2008 thanks to a $3.6 billion contract with Boeing [DID: it turned out to be 20 aircraft, under the F-X-2 competition].
- ROK plans to suggest a bid for the 2 trillion won (USD $1.3 billion) project to build 4 Airborne Early Warning and Control systems, commonly known as AWACS, between 2009 and 2011. [DID: This was done; the Boeing E-737 won as a result of US export controls]
- By 2009, the ROK will deploy 8 more P-3 Orion patrol aircraft, which are used primarily to detect prowling enemy submarines but can also help to identify small naval craft like those used by North Korean commandos and terrorists.
- The ROK Army recently fielded another multiple rocket launching battalion consisting of 29 launchers and 310 extended range ammunition pods.
The ROK is also investigating the possibility of assuming overall military command of allied forces in wartime, a role currently held by the USA. There are actually two command titles involved: Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command, and United Nations Command which is also led the general in charge of US Forces Korea.
Sources: The Korea Herald: Seoul preparing for wartime troop control