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South Korea Had A Massive Presence At ADAS 2016

October 4, 2016
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The B2B meeting area within the South Korea pavilion.

Since 2013 a critical shift has occurred in the procurement habits of the Philippine military. This was the slow departure from total reliance on US aid in favor of sourcing arms and equipment purchases to a regional American ally, South Korea.

This was evident during the recent ADAS arms show where the separate pavilions of South Korea and the US weren’t just side-by-side, but competed with each other in scale. But when it came to variety it was South Korea’s defense contractors who prevailed thanks to Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) putting on a grand display facing the venue’s entrance. The extravagance was called for since KAI are delivering 12 FA-50 multirole attack aircraft to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) from 2016 until 2017.

There were equally strong efforts from Hanwha Techwin and Kia. The latter put its newly-minted Humvee clone called the LTV on display to entice the Philippine Army’s probable future requirement for a genuine tactical armored car rather than its current fleet of light trucks. As a bonus, Kia parked its 6×6 and 4×4 truck models at an adjacent facility connected to the trade show floor. This could hint at future shared production at a state-owned industrial park for the Philippine defense sector.

Less conspicuous was the presence of Hyundai Heavy Industries who had just won the bid for the Philippine Navy’s two frigates worth $337 million. In their absence another subsidiary, an OEM for communications equipment called Hyundai J.Comm, participated instead.

The full spectrum of South Korea’s participation in the events covered every imaginable material requirement for militaries except for food and medicine. It included UAVs, small arms and ammunition, ballistic protection, metallurgy, power generating equipment, shelter, robotics, explosives and ordnance.

Another silent actor in South Korea’s ADAS campaign was the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA). It’s a special office run by the Ministry of National Defense to oversee sales of arms and “defense equipment” in foreign markets.

If South Korea’s participation in ADAS is a credible measure of its plans to build partnerships for arms sales in Southeast Asia then it could soon become a serious influence on the shape of regional militaries.

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