Seoul diversifies arms purchases away from U.S
For decades, “Made in U.S.A.” was the only label that counted when Korea went shopping for military equipment.
When Seoul decided last month to buy Anglo-Italian military helicopters over U.S. aircraft, the ground started to shift beneath the two countries’ 60-year-old military alliance.
Military and defense industry sources said it was a deliberate sign of a change in Korea’s procurement patterns, which has been heavily concentrated on American weaponry. Expectations are high that in the incoming Park Geun-hye administration, which is scheduled to invest more than 70 trillion won ($64 billion) in major defense projects, the price tags will become more important than either the technology or the country of origin. The new president has made clear that her priority in spending is shifting from swords to ploughshares, or welfare programs.
Sticker prices are an issue. To purchase 60 units, Korea would need to spend up to 15 trillion won for the F-35, 11 trillion won for the Eurofighter and 10 trillion won for the F-15 SE, defense industry sources said. The current budget allotment of 8.31 trillion won is way under.