Ahn Doo-won and Choi Mira
South Korea was the third largest importer of U.S.-made weapons over the last decade as it bought $6.7 billion worth of weapons from the country over the period, which amounted to almost 16 percent of Korea’s total defense budget of 46 trillion won ($40.7 billion) this year.
According to data released by the Defense Agency for Technology and Quality on Wednesday, the U.S. sold the largest amount of its arms to Saudi Arabia worth $10.6 billion from 2008 to 2017, followed by Australia with $7.3 billion, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates with $6.76 billion. The U.S. exported $90 billion weaponry in total to the world over the cited period, the data showed.
Although the agency did not reveal which weapons the country bought from the U.S., industry sources speculated that it might have bought 20 more F-35A stealth fighters after purchasing 40 units recently. Last year it also decided to buy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
Amid mounting pressures from the Trump administration to increase Seoul’s share of defense cost for the U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK), the Korean government is mulling to buy reconnaissance aircraft Joint STARS, naval helicopter MH 60R Seahawk and ship-based missile system SM-3 from the U.S.
Trump said during the press conference after the Korea-U.S. summit in November 2017 that Korea would buy weapons worth billions of dollars and some orders were already placed.
Critics say that the U.S. is demanding too much as the data showed that Korea is already the third largest buyer of American arms.