close
Saturday April 20, 2024

Saudis agree $3.2 billion deal to buy South Korean missile defence system

The details of the deal were disclosed at the sidelines of the World Defence Show in Riyadh

By AFP
February 07, 2024
LIG Nex1 showcases its mid-range surface-to-air missile system during the World Defense Show, an international defense exhibition held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in this photo provided by the Korean defense firm on February 5, 2024. — LIG Nex1
LIG Nex1 showcases its mid-range surface-to-air missile system during the World Defense Show, an international defense exhibition held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in this photo provided by the Korean defense firm on February 5, 2024. — LIG Nex1

RIYADH: South Korean defence firm LIG Nex1 has won a $3.2 billion deal to export a mid-range surface-to-air missile defence system to Saudi Arabia, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defence said on Tuesday.

The Saudi defence ministry agreed to buy 10 batteries of a mid-range, medium-altitude interception system called Cheongung M-SAM II that can cope with ballistic missile and aircraft attacks, the South Korean ministry said.

The details of the deal were disclosed at the sidelines of the World Defence Show in Riyadh.

South Korea is aiming to become the world’s fourth-largest arms exporter by 2027 and has set eyes on the “diversification of defence export markets,” Defence Minister Shin Won-sik, who witnessed the MoU signing alongside his Saudi counterpart Khalid bin Salman, told reporters at the Riyadh exhibition.

“South Korea will develop a long-term partnership with Saudi Arabia not only in arms sales but also in terms of broader defense cooperation to make a win-win situation,” Shin said.

Shin also held talks with the Minister of Saudi National Guard Abdullah bin Bandar during his time in Riyadh, where they discussed ways to also strengthen bilateral military cooperation.

In the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine, South Korea has emerged as a leading defence supplier in the world, as it became one of the few countries able to deliver weapons systems quickly and efficiently following decades of preparation under the threat of conflict with North Korea.

The country’s arms exports jumped to $17 billion in 2022, far surpassing a record of $7.25 billion in the previous year. The country was the ninth-largest arms seller in the world that same year, rising from its 31st place in 2000, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

South Korea’s leniency in technology transfer and cooperative measures makes it an ideal partner for countries like Saudi Arabia, as the Kingdom seeks “to build up self-reliant defense capabilities,” instead of purchasing off-the-shelf arms products, Ahn added. —Agencies