U.S. and South Korea seek new defense technology partnerships

U.S. and South Korea seek new defense technology partnerships

An F-16 Fighting Falcon flies during a joint exercise with U.S. and South Korean forces.

Air Force photo by Sgt. Nick Wilson

South Korea is seeking to expand its alliance with Washington to include defense technology development.

The United States has long viewed South Korea as a strategic military partner in the Indo-Pacific. As the Pentagon seeks to address instability in the region and accelerate its defense programs to match Chinese technological advances, it should expand its alliance with Seoul to include more collaboration with industry and government, said retired General Robert Brown, president and CEO of the Association of the United States Army.

“The world has become far more complex and dangerous than it has ever been, and it calls for more innovative cooperation than ever before,” Brown said in February at a conference co-hosted by the think tank. based in Washington, DC, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Administration of Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program, or DAPA.

South Korea’s geographic position in Northeast Asia not only makes it an epicenter for trade, but also creates overlapping geopolitical interests between it and the United States, Brown said.

Furthermore, the race for dominance in the development of emerging technologies – such as artificial intelligence, 5G capabilities, robotics, biotechnology and data mining – is key to ensuring stability in the Indo-Pacific. , he added.

South Korean commercial industries have made technological advancements that the United States should take advantage of for the growth and development of its own defense industry, said Kang Eun-ho, minister of DAPA. The defense sector could benefit from South Korean companies such as Samsung, Hanwha and LG, he noted.

South Korean industry can also ease U.S. supply chain issues by acquiring secondary semiconductors and batteries, Kang noted.

In addition, the Seoul government has demonstrated its research and development capability, Kang said. The nation is pushing for the advancement of certain capabilities that align with key U.S. Department of Defense R&D priorities, including AI, quantum computing, and autonomous technologies.

South Korean officials need more information on exactly how the two partners can effectively collaborate across overlapping defense and trade sectors to create a “win-win situation for both countries”, Kang said. That could include South Korea filling research and development gaps in the United States and the United States funding new technologies already in South Korea, he said.

However, Brown and Kang acknowledged that there are potential challenges to full defense interoperability. Bureaucratic hurdles related to cybersecurity, intellectual property and export licensing requirements must be overcome.

“When it comes to getting concrete, cooperative results — where we have the commitment from government, but also from industry — we have to be prepared to take some risks,” Kang said.

Topics: Global defense market

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