Experts Stress Intl Cooperation on Arms Acquisition
By Jung Sung-ki
Experts on arms acquisition called for increased global partnerships for the development and acquisition advanced weapons systems, Oct. 22, as defense acquisition is becoming increasingly complex due to expanded requirements and technology, alongside budgetary constraints.
Thirty-five representatives from 20 nations around the world gathered in Seoul to attend the third International Acquisition Conference hosted by South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
The two-day conference, titled ``Transformation in Defense Acquisition,'' will address defense acquisition reform policy, core defense technology, ``defense green growth,'' and innovation.
``Governments and defense industries around the world are accelerating their efforts to develop combined weapons systems with advanced technologies that require high precision and cutting-edge quality,'' DAPA Commissioner Byun Moo-keun said in his welcoming speech at the JW Marriott Hotel in southern Seoul.
However, developing such systems requires a long acquisition period, astronomical costs and risks of failure, he said. ``In order to overcome these challenges, multifaceted efforts have been made by defense industries at home and abroad to lower risks and development costs through technological cooperation and co-development.''
In a congratulatory speech, Defense Minister Kim Tae-young also stressed the need to enhance international cooperation on arms procurement and development.
``An increasing number of companies in the defense industry are consolidating themselves in pursuit of synergy in technology integration, and industrial cooperation on research and development is also in full swing,'' Kim said. ``In this regard, international efforts to promote defense R&D are prerequisite to the survival of a nation, and are indeed the most efficient way of acquisition.''
Participants shared their views on ways to improve global arms acquisition cooperation and establish more advanced, cost-effective acquisition systems.
Murad Bayar, undersecretary for defense industries of the Turkish Ministry of National Defense, introduced his nation's three-step approach in arms acquisition programs.
Turkey applies indigenous development models in primary fields, which help enhance the Turkish defense industry's product portfolio, Bayar said in his keynote speech.
But when development is not cost-effective for the Turkish industry, the government moves to participate in international partnerships or consortiums, he said.
If these two options are not effective, direct procurement is used, which results in employment opportunities increasing at Turkish firms from joint production and offset programs, said the official.
The Turkish procurement chief referred to its co-production of the K-9 Firtina Howitzer and the development of its Altay main battle tank as successful joint acquisition programs with South Korea.
South Korea transferred technologies of its K-9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer, KT-1 Woongbi basic trainer jet and K2 Black Panther tank to Turkey under bilateral deals.
Maj. Gen. Per Lodin, director for strategic planning and development of the Swedish Defence Material Administration, said, ``Establishing cooperation betwen governments and industries is always tricky. Many issues like requirements, timing, industry participation, security of supplies need to be solved.''
However, he said, exchange of information in order to reach mutual understanding regarding the capacity of each partner and future requirements should be easy.
He said South Korea will be a key arms acquisition partner down the road, citing a recent memorandum of understanding (MOU)between the countries to faciltiate exchange of defense information.
``The MOU is the basis for a bilateral understanding to ensure cost and/or information sharing as new means to ensure stablity and security to our partners and another 200 years of peace in Sweden,'' he said.
Other key panelists include H.E. Quentin Davis, undersecretary of state and minister for defense equipment at the U.K. Ministry of Defense; Brig. Gen. Argenson Daniel, director for the Asia and Pacific region of the French Ministry of Defense; and Rear Adm. Mario Catacutan, deputy chief of staff for personnel of the Phillipine Department of National Defense.
Other participants are Woo Ki-jong, secretary-general of the South Korean presidential committee on green growth; and Yoshiyuki Iwai, director general for acquisiton reform of the Japanese Ministry of Defense.