Full year-end reports on the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) defense exports have yet to emerge, but it’s likely that the nation fell short of its 2012 targeted goals. After a banner year in 2011 with arms exports doubling from $1.2 billion to over $2.4 billion, South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) may have failed to meet its aggressive $3 billion (USD) mark for 2012.
The first half of 2012 put the ROK above pace for achieving its $3 billion target, with sales at the six-month point in June totaling over $1.5 billion dollars. A 2011 expected, but 2012 consummated sale of eight Mine Counter-Measure Vessels (MCMV) with India accounted for $600 million of that total. In addition, South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding landed a $720 million dollar deal with the United Kingdom for the construction of Naval Support Tankers for the British Navy, the third largest deal in South Korean defense export history. Smalls arms and ammunition sales to the United States also netted the ROK around $130 million dollars before the halfway point of that year.
Unfortunately, 2012 will be categorized by what the South Korean Defense Industry left on the table or failed to sign off on. Early in the year the ROK found itself losing two separate $1 billion deals to supply both Israel and Iraq with twenty Korea Aerospace Industries’ (KAI) T-50 Golden Eagle trainer aircraft to Italy and the Czech Republic respectively. Another deal to sell the Philippines twelve T-50 trainers for $600 million, though approved by the Philippines, remains in political limbo between the two nations. The T-50 finished the year as the plane most likely to take second place in a fighter selection competition, in a sector where second place means little.
In the second half of 2012, there was little further evidence of DAPA export contracts. beyond a $200 million contract with the Peruvian Air Force for twenty of KAI’s KT-1 turboprop trainer aircraft.
It’s possible we’re not yet privy to all defense contracts landed by DAPA this past year, but it looks like the ROK may have hit a sophomore slump after a banner 2011. With the Peruvian deal, defense exports hit around $1.8 billion for 2012, and although there are likely minor agreements out there that could push the year towards $2 billion, we’re at a dearth of finding any further contracts that would see those numbers at $3 billion.
The ROK may have missed their 2012 aspirations, though we’ll await final word from DAPA, as they may have pulled a few last minute rabbits out of their hat that we’re unaware of.
Craig was born & raised in the United States, having recently returned there after over five years in Asia. He is currently pursuing further education in the realms of East Asian Studies and Politics. Craig is an avid fan of the political, economic, and military machinations occurring throughout the Asian continent and how those turning gears affect the rest of the world. He's currently covering both North and South Korea for Asia Security Watch, enjoying shedding light on to this far-too-often ignored slice of Asia.
Craig Scanlan has 82 post(s) on Asia Security Watch