The next South Korean government will be burdened with more than 24.8 trillion won (US $20.5 billion) in defense procurement and will face budget shortfalls.
The current Park Geun-hye’s government is expected to spend some 13.6 trillion won (US $11.3 billion) in 22 defense acquisition programs each worth 500 billion won (US $415 million) or more by the time its term ends in 2017, whereas the next government will have to bear more than $20.5 billion by 2020, Rep. Baek Kun-ki of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy was quoted as saying by Korea Herald news daily Monday.
According to the report, the government is pushing to bring in advanced, pricey military assets without a budget commensurate with the size of the projects, heaping a financial burden of billions of dollars onto its successor, a report said Monday.
The government is supposed to fund almost 360 billion won and its successor around 1.8 trillion won (US $1.5 billion) for a project to adopt four units of Airbus’ in-flight refueling tankers by 2019, the report claimed.
The National Defense Acquisition Program Committee announced the result of the bid in late June, and the France-headquartered company is slated to deliver two planes in 2018 and another two the following year.
In another case, the government is set to pay the 376.9 billion won (US $31.2 billion) balance by 2018 for the country’s first indigenously developed military helicopter built by the Korea Aerospace Industries, Surion initiative, though the delivery will be completed in 2017, Baek said.
While the Defense Ministry has been pressing ahead with ambitious purchase programs, the average defense budget growth rate stands at just about 3.9 percent under Park.
“The next administration will face critical problems maintaining a defense posture unless the incumbent allocates a realistic budget starting next year,” Baek said in a statement, calling for a comprehensive overhaul of the midterm defense plan.