S. Korea’s arms exports amount to nearly $14 bln in 2023

SEOUL, South Korea’s arms exports in 2023 decreased from a record high last year, but the number of importers rose thanks to robust demand for advanced Korean weapons, the defense ministry said Wednesday.

South Korean firms signed weapons deals worth nearly $14 billion this year, a defense ministry official said, without providing a specific amount as the official data is not yet available.

This year’s estimated figure was down from a record high of $17.3 billion last year, which was helped by mega deals in Poland, which accounted for 72 percent of the total.

Last year, Poland signed $13 billion worth of deals with Korean firms to buy K-2 tanks, K-9 self-propelled howitzers, FA-50 light attack aircraft and K-239 Chunmoo multiple rocket launchers to bolster its defenses amid the Russia-Ukraine war.

The number of importers tripled to 12 and the types of weapons systems doubled to 12 this year, according to the ministry.

Earlier this month, Hanwha Aerospace cinched a $2.4 billion contract to sell 129 Redback infantry fighting vehicles to Australia. In February, Korea Aerospace Industries struck a $920 million contract to sell 18 FA-50 light attack aircraft to Malaysia.

Seoul officials anticipated the amount to break the previous record to over $20 billion next year when the second round of weapons deals with Poland are finalized, with negotiations currently under way.

South Korea aims to carve out a 5 percent share of the global arms export market by 2027 to become the world’s fourth-largest defense exporter.

Source: Yonhap News Agency