Politics & News

Saudi Arabia, South Korea’s Blossoming Defense Industry Cooperation

Saudi Arabia and South Korea are concluding phases of formalizing a significant defense industry collaboration, spotlighting the long-term synergistic alliance between the two nations. The pivotal focus of this collaboration is Saudi Arabia’s keen interest in acquiring the Medium-range Surface-to-Air Missile Block-II (M-SAM II) system, known as the “Korean Patriot,” from South Korea’s defense firm LIG Nex1.

Initiating Defense Industry Ties

The inception of defense ties between Saudi Arabia and South Korea materialized with Saudi Arabia’s Defence Ministry signing an $800 million contract with South Korea’s Hanwha to bolster its defense capabilities. This collaboration has now advanced to encompass discussions around sophisticated missile defense systems, highlighting the evolving defense dynamics between the two nations.

M-SAM II: Korean Patriot

South Korea’s LIG Nex1 showcased the M-SAM II system at IDEX 2023, shortly after the UAE inked a $3.5 billion deal for the missile system with Korea. The M-SAM II, dubbed the ‘Korean Patriot,’ is eyed by Saudi Arabia as a significant enhancement to its air defense arsenal, with discussions underway between LIG Nex1 and Saudi Arabia regarding the acquisition of this high-to-medium altitude air defense weapon.

Broadening Horizons

The defense collaboration is in its “final stages,” encompassing various sectors of the defense industry, including the potential sale of anti-aircraft defense systems and mid-range surface-to-air missile systems by South Korean firms Hanwha Defense and LIG Nex1 to Saudi Arabia. This collaboration marks a seminal step towards a long-term methodical cooperation, significantly benefiting both nations’ defense industries and geopolitical standing.

Days ago, Saudi Arabia and South Korea issued a joint statement, marking the conclusion of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s state visit to Riyadh. The visit emphasized the long-standing diplomatic relationship and the broadening economic partnerships between the two nations.

Historical Relations and Economic Ties:

Saudi Arabia and South Korea have shared diplomatic ties for over six decades and in recent years the relationship has become notably substantial. The countries commemorated the 60th anniversary of their diplomatic relations in 2022, marking it with a visit from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to South Korea​. The economic relationship has flourished over time, with a striking 400-fold increase in trade volume since the establishment of relations in 1962​.

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