South Korea secures $3.2 billion missile defence contract with Saudi Arabia

South Korea has signed a $3.2 billion deal with Saudi Arabia to supply 10 batteries of its Cheongung M-SAM II missile defence system, the South Korean Ministry of National Defence announced on Tuesday. The deal, which was finalized during the World Defence Show in Riyadh, is the largest defence export contract in South Korea’s history.

The Cheongung M-SAM II, also known as the KM-SAM, is a mid-range, medium-altitude surface-to-air missile system developed by South Korea’s LIG Nex1. It is capable of intercepting ballistic missiles and aircraft within a range of 40 kilometers and an altitude of 15 kilometers. It can also engage multiple targets simultaneously with its active radar homing seeker and vertical launch system.

The system, which is based on the Russian S-350 Vityaz, has been operational in South Korea since 2015. It is part of South Korea’s three-tier missile defence system, along with the Patriot PAC-2 and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). South Korea has also developed a long-range surface-to-air missile system called the L-SAM, which is expected to be deployed by 2025.

Saudi Arabia seeks to boost its air defence capabilities

Saudi Arabia, which has been involved in a military intervention in Yemen since 2015, has faced frequent missile and drone attacks from the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The kingdom has also been concerned about the regional threats posed by Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs. Saudi Arabia has been investing heavily in its air defence capabilities, acquiring systems such as the Patriot PAC-3, the THAAD, and the European Aster 30.

The deal with South Korea marks the first time that Saudi Arabia has purchased a missile defence system from a non-Western country. It also reflects the growing defence cooperation between the two countries, which have signed several memoranda of understanding in recent years. In 2019, South Korea and Saudi Arabia agreed to jointly develop a counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar (C-RAM) system.

South Korea aims to become a major arms exporter

South Korea, which has been developing its own defence industry since the 1970s, has emerged as a major arms exporter in the world. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), South Korea was the ninth-largest arms supplier in the world in 2019, with a 2.1 percent share of the global market. South Korea’s main customers include Indonesia, Iraq, the Philippines, and Turkey.

South Korea has set a goal of becoming the fourth-largest arms exporter by 2027, with an annual export value of $10 billion. To achieve this, South Korea has been diversifying its export markets and products, offering competitive prices and technology transfer. South Korea has also been participating in international defence exhibitions and forums, such as the World Defence Show, to showcase its capabilities and products.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *