South Korea will increase its military budget next year to 43.2 trillion won ($39.7 billion) to beef up its defense capabilities.
The National Assembly has approved 7 per cent year-on-year military spending, the biggest since 2009, Yonhap reported Wednesday.
The budget increase of 40.4 billion won reflects the ‘grim security reality’ of the North’s nuclear and missile threats becoming more serious, the defense ministry said.
The liberal Moon government is also pushing for the reform of the 625,000-strong armed forces with the slogan "competent national security and strong defense."
The focus of the efforts is to upgrade the arms system and reduce the number of troops.
The government plans to complete the establishment of the so-called three-axis defense platform by the early 2020s. This refers to the Kill Chain pre-emptive strike system, the Korean Air and Missile Defense, and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation scheme.
A total of 4.3 trillion won has been earmarked for the project in 2018, up 551 billion won from this year.
Separately, lawmakers agreed to lift the budget for military-related R&D programs and defense industry 4.2 percent to 2.9 trillion won. This paves the way for South Korea to develop or purchase more advanced weapons.
South Korea is seeking to introduce military satellites and tactical surface-to-surface guided missiles, known as KTSSMs, and to upgrade the Patriot missile defense system.
"We plan to continue R&D on KTSSM until next year, including that on military GPS, with mass production expected to be possible starting in 2019," an official at the Defense Acquisition Program Administration told reporters.
"The budget for the (acquisition) program of the Navy's maritime operation choppers has been adjusted to 56.3 billion won from 46.3 billion."
In addition, 340 million won has been allocated to help the Army's newly created "special mission brigade" bolster its firepower, he added.
The unit, reportedly composed of 1,000 well-trained forces, was launched earlier this month to "decapitate" the North's leader Kim Jong-un and other top officials of the regime in the case of a contingency.
"The budget will be used for such weapons as sub-machine guns for special operation purposes and drones," the official said.
The military will also raise the monthly wage for its soldiers, and for conscripts in particular, with the pay for Army sergeants scheduled to jump from 216,000 won to 405,700 won in 2018.
But the number of new non-commissioned officers for next year has been set at 2,470, lower than the 3,458 proposed by the government, due to an agreement between the ruling and opposition parties on the public-sector employment.
The South Korean Air Force (SKAF) has created a bigger airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) unit to monitor Pyongyangs nuclear and missile activities. The new unit plans to introduce two RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles next year under a 2014 contract with the US, with two more to arrive in 2019,
The South Korean Army plans to develop combat uniforms with new camouflage and a combat meal to the current three types. The current digitally patterned camouflage pattern, adopted in 200 will be replaced by a new one, to adjust troops to changing warfare environment,
In a clear attempt to intimidate North Korea, Washington and Seoul will hold one of its biggest ever air exercises involving 230 warplanes including F-22 Raptors and F-35s besides personnel from the US Marines and Korean forces. The US is planning to send six F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, three to four F-35A for the drill, South Korean military officials were quoted as saying by
Airbus Helicopters has been awarded a contract from South Korea's National 119 Rescue Headquarters for the purchase of two additional H225 helicopters. The National 119 Rescue Headquarters currently operates an all-Airbus helicopter fleet comprising two AS365 N2 and two H225
South Korea and Denmark will test a maritime safety and communication system on the shores of South Korean city of Busan. The Denmarks Maritime Authority along with South Koreas ministry of oceans and fisheries will conduct the test, Yonhap reported Saturday
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