Against a background of heightened nuclear and missile threats from North Korea, South Korea’s national assembly has approved a 2017 defence budget of 40 trillion 334.7 billion won (€32.5bn), which represents a 4% increase from the previous year.
It is the first time that military spending has exceeded the 40tr-won mark, and it is also the first time since 2011 that the defence budget bill was not reduced by the National Assembly.
The budget includes over 12tr won for the acquisition and development of weapons systems, an increase of 4.8% compared with the previous year, plus 28tr won (+3.6%) for operational expenses.
The National Assembly increased the budget allocated to countering North Korean nuclear and missile threats by 166.8bn won, including 58.8bn won for long-range air-to-ground guided missiles, 21.3bn won for ballistic missile early-warning radar, and 38bn won to upgrade the KF-16. Lockheed Martin was recently awarded a $1.2bn foreign military sales (FMS) contract to upgrade 134 Republic of Korea Air Force F-16s.
A total of 44.5bn won have been allocated to core target detection and identification through military reconnaissance satellites and unmanned aircraft systems, 700m won for unmanned aircraft for medium altitude reconnaissance, and 100m won for additional lease of military satellites under the “Kill Chain” system. The budget also includes 135.9bn for long-range air-to-ground guided missiles.
In addition, the ballistic early warning radar-II received 30bn won, as part of the Korea Air Missile Defense (KAMD) programme, while 283.7bn won were allocated to improving the capability of Patriot missiles.