Friday, December 25, 2009

South Korea, Egypt Sign Deal on Arms Cooperation

South Korea and Egypt signed a memorandum of understanding Dec. 18 on cooperation in the defense industry, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) here said. Signed by DAPA Commissioner Byun Moo-keun and his Egyptian counterpart Sayed Meshaal, minister of state for military production, the agreement calls for boosting cooperation between defense manufacturers in both countries in production and acquisition, according to the release.

Both sides will also establish a defense cooperation committee to explore ways of meeting each other's defense needs, it said. "This MoU with Egypt is expected to serve as a springboard for South Korean firms to export its defense products to African nations," one DAPA official said. A potential export item for South Korea is the K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer built by Samsung Techwin, the official said.

"Egypt plans to equip its army with advanced self-propelled howitzers. The K9 Thunder would compete for the acquisition plan," he said. Developed jointly with the state-funded Agency for Defense Development, the K9 carries a 155mm/.52 caliber gun with a maximum firing range of 40 kilometers. Up-to-date mobility systems include a 1,000-horsepower engine and a hydropneumatic suspension unit.

Turkey built its own version of the K9, the T-155 Fırtına, under the license production agreement with Samsung Techwin. South Korea and Egypt posted bilateral trade of $2.8 billion last year, and the bilateral trade volume has increased 30 percent every year since the two nations established diplomatic ties in 1995, the official said.Still, defense trade accounted for just $100 million last year, he noted.


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