| 25 September 2022, Sunday |

Arriving in fighter jet, S.Korea’s Moon urges defense industry growth

President Moon Jae-in told a military expo on the outskirts of Seoul on Wednesday that South Korea should redouble its efforts to become a global defense industry leader after landing in an air force fighter jet.

Moon appeared in a flight suit in the rear seat of an FA-50 jet fighter, South Korea’s first indigenous supersonic aircraft and a significant defense export, at the biennial Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition (ADEX).

The military demonstration occurred a day after North Korea successfully tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile. North Korea had its own defense show last week, with leader Kim Jong Un claiming that his country’s military developments are for self-defense and accusing South Korea of destabilizing the peninsula with its arms buildup.

Moon defended the South’s highly sophisticated military as crucial for peace in his speech on Wednesday.

He stated, “The purpose of establishing strong defense power is always to encourage peace.”

Amid glittering displays of drones, sniper rifles, helicopters, missiles, and other weapons, crowds of company representatives, diplomats, and South Korean troops mixed with military delegations in an array of foreign uniforms.

At least 440 companies from 28 countries are participating in what organizers said was the largest ADEX ever. About 300 government, military and defence acquisition officials from 45 countries were expected to attend the event, which lasts through Saturday.

Moon said it was time for South Korea’s arms industry to become a global leader.

Pointing the FA-50, he praised South Korean technology.

“I could feel the dashing dignity of the FA-50, which we’ve developed with our own technologies,” Moon said.

South Korea plans to spend more than 80% of its acquisition budget on domestic supplies and to quadruple support for parts localisation by 2026, with a focus on areas that could shape future wars, including AI, drones, robotics and space, he said.

“We envision a smart yet strong military based on advanced science and technology, and promote peace together with the international community,” Moon added.

South Korea’s arms exports from 2016 to 2020 were 210% higher than from 2011–2015, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute data. It is also one of the largest arms importers in the world, buying major weapons systems such as American-made F-35 stealth fighter jets in recent years.

  • Reuters