South Korea Launches 2021–35 Defense Technology Plan

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has launched the country’s new long-term plan aimed at developing technologies in key areas of military capability.

The new 2021–35 Core Technology Plan, unveiled on 22 March, will provide direction in the country’s efforts to develop “future high-tech” military equipment and systems, said DAPA.

The plan encompasses the requirement to develop capabilities in 140 core technologies across eight areas of core defense capability.

In the plan, each of the 140 core technology requirements is linked to a series of related sub-technologies. For instance, a core technology requirement for autonomous and AI-based surveillance and reconnaissance includes signal processing technologies, which, in turn, include capabilities related to algorithms, scenario modelling, detection, and digital array systems.

The 2021–35 plan states that it was drawn up following consultation with the Republic of Korea (RoK) Armed Forces, and is in line with joint military strategy documents and defense policies.

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The plan outlines an emphasis on supporting the development of technologies through increased defense research and development (R&D) activity by small businesses, independent research institutes, and academia. Civil-military integration is another priority area, it said.

The plan is also geared towards supporting South Korea’s wider efforts to replace imports with locally developed and produced systems and components. South Korea has prioritised this requirement, especially in key military platforms such as Korea Aerospace Industries’ KF-X fighter aircraft or Hyundai Rotem’s K2 main battle tank.

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