The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said in a statement that the two sides agreed that the role of South Korea is currently becoming more crucial in the global supply chain. The South Korean agency added that participants reached a consensus on the necessity for joint research and development. The conference was jointly held with the Center for Strategic International Studies, a think tank based in Washington D.C.
"We realized the need to strengthen cooperation in the field of defense through the South Korea-U.S. summit in May 2022," DAPA minister Eom Dong-hwan was quoted as saying. The agency asked for the U.S. side's interest in South Korean products. Specific plans would be disclosed through a joint consultative body in the second quarter of 2023.
In October 2022, Arion-SMET, an advanced multi-purpose unmanned ground vehicle developed by Hanwha Defense, a South Korean defense company known for K9 self-propelled howitzers and infantry fighting vehicles, was selected for foreign comparative testing. The vehicle weighing six tons was built primarily for assisting infantry operations such as transporting munition and weapons and evacuating the wounded. It has a total of six wheels.
On March 13, the U.S. and South Korea began a joint exercise titled "Freedom Shield," three days after North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile. Prior to the missile launch, joint air drills were conducted by Seoul and Washington which involved South Korean F-15K and KF-16 fighter jets, the U.S. Air Force's nuclear-capable B-52H strategic bombers.
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