South Korea Defence & Security Report Q2 2014: New research report available at Fast Market Research

From: Fast Market Research, Inc.
Published: Thu Mar 13 2014

Despite Pyongyang calling for the creation of an atmosphere of reconciliation and unity on the Korean peninsula, Seoul has recently acted to bolster its security and defences against the North. Indeed, attuned to the North's reputation of engaging in a cycle of concessions followed by provocations, the South's decision to bolster border security was perhaps wise in the present context. This increase in border security complements various long-term defence projects aimed at enhancing South Korea's security in the face of an increasingly unpredictable and volatile North Korea.

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A significant portion of defence expenditure funds are expected to go towards upgrading South Korea's missile defence system. The Korea Air Missiles Defence system (KAMD), or so called 'kill chain project' will see Seoul move from its German made PAC-2 missile system to the PAC-3 system produced by American contractor Lockheed Martin. This project is expected to set the Ministry of National Defence (MND) back by approximately US$26.4bn over the next five years.

In another windfall for Lockheed Martin, the MND is also set to sign a deal for 40 F-35 Lightning fighter jets. According to Korea's Defence Acquisition Program Administration the deal, worth a reported US $6.8bn, will be signed sometime in Q314, with procurement set to begin in 2018. In a revised arrangement with the United States, 2014 will see Seoul paying US$866mn to maintain an enhanced US military presence in South Korea. This is a 5.4% rise from 2013 and is an arrangement that will continue for at least five years.

This revised deal, which will see an additional 800 troops and 40 M1A2 tanks sent to South Korea this year, comes as the US looks to bolster its presence in the region as part of President Obama's so-called 'pivot-to- Asia' strategy. For South Korea, the US presence provides security assurances not only against its unpredictable neighbour, North Korea, but also an increasingly aggressive and assertive China.

Beijing's announcement in Q413 of an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) covering disputed areas of the East China Sea has increased tensions in the region. The ADIZ requires foreign aircraft to submit their flight plan to the authorities before entering the designated area. China's ADIZ encompasses the disputed Iedo rock, claimed by both Beijing and Seoul. In response to China's ADIZ, Seoul has declared its own ADIZ which, in places, overlaps with the air space claimed by China. BMI views such moves as increasing the risk of a serious security incident in the region as a consequence of miscalculation by either side.

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