The South Korean Finance Ministry has announced plans to direct $733 million (904.7 billion won) from this year’s $40.94 billion (50.15 trillion won) defense budget to fund expenses caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
On Thursday, the finance ministry said it will channel $6.2 billion (7.6 trillion won) from the general budget to cushion the economic fallout brought about by the pandemic, Yonhap reported.
While $157.34 million has been taken by adjusting operating expenses, the remaining $581.3 million has been squeezed from arms procurement projects.
This includes pushing payment schedules for Aegis destroyer systems and for the introduction of F-35A stealth fighters due this year, to next year.
"No delay in introduction or deployment of any equipment is expected due to the budget cut," Kim Il-dong, the director general of the ministry's Military Force Policy Bureau, was quoted as saying by Yonhap.
Although the move raises concerns over the possible impact on the country's defense capabilities, the defense ministry stated that the possibility of the funds being used seemed bleak owing to the coronavirus.
The government has modified plans for new arms contracts or combined exercises following the virus outbreak.
"Regarding new businesses, the contract schedules, including those for overseas tests and evaluations, have already been postponed due to the coronavirus situation, so we cut the budget taking into consideration such delays," Kim added.