While a majority of Western governments, particularly in Europe, reduced their defense industrial investments following the collapse of the Soviet bloc in the mid-1990s, South Korea, still exposed to the threat from Pyongyang, saw this as a opportunity to develop its own defense industry, building on the dynamic that had already enabled the country to become a global industrial and technological player in many areas for around twenty years.
To achieve this, Seoul has approached numerous Western industrialists, with lucrative contracts to modernize the South Korean armed forces thanks to subsidies released by the sustained growth of the country's economy.
This is how Germany, France, Great Britain, the United States and even Russia signed major arms orders in the 1990s and 2000s, a major opportunity when the market was par elsewhere sluggish, even if it was necessary to be more conciliatory than usual.
In fact, these contracts were accompanied by important technology transfer clauses, which allowed South Korean manufacturers, in 20 years, to upgrade to the best Western equipment.
This is how the K9 self-propelled gun, the K2 Black Panther tank, the Dosan Aah Changho submarines and the KDDX III Sejong the great destroyers appeared. And even if all were partly equipped with European and American technological solutions, they were becoming more and more autonomous, and above all ready to be exported.
Today, South Korea is present in numerous Defense markets, as well as in numerous competitions, often against the very manufacturers who allowed it to acquire the initial skills necessary to get there, while South Korea's research Korean has now taken over to do without the latest Western equipment in their productions.
This South Korean success apparently inspired the Saudi authorities. Indeed, in an interview given to the American site BreakingDefense.com as part of the Paris Air Show, the president of the company Saudi Arabia Military Industries or SAMI, Walid Abukhaled, detailed ambitions but also a sensible strategy to bring the company into the TOP 25 global defense manufacturers, as well as reducing Saudi imports in the defense sector below 50% by 2030.
Without naming it, this strategy, which is based precisely on the very numerous future contracts for the modernization of the equipment of the Saudi armed forces, while imposing significant technology transfers and local industrial deployment, is obviously very close to that applied by Seoul between 1995 and 2015, before taking off on its own.
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