December 28, 2015 10:27
Korea was the world's largest arms importer of 2014, ahead even of perennial top spender Saudi Arabia. Both countries are somewhat captive markets to U.S. arms manufacturers since Washington is a particularly vital ally to both.
Korea "was the world's top weapons buyer in 2014, completing $7.8 billion in contracts," the New York Times on Saturday quoted a Congressional Research Service report.
From 2008-11, Korea ranked a mere 10th after Saudi Arabia, India, the U.A.E., Brazil, Egypt, Venezuela, Iraq, Taiwan, and Israel, and in 2009-2013 eighth after India, China, Pakistan, the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, the U.S., and Australia.
The bulk of Seoul's purchases or some $7 billion came from the U.S., which supplied "transport helicopters and related support, as well as advanced unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles," the daily said.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration said the high ranking is due to a lot of money being spent last year on large-scale projects like the F-35 fighter jets and a high-altitude drone named Global Hawk. The former was worth W7.34 trillion-worth and the latter W880 billion (US$1=W1,171).
From 2010 to 2014, U.S. weapons accounted for 89 percent of Korea's total arms imports. On the 2014 list of top importers, Iraq ranked second with $7.3 billion-worth of arms aiming to fill the vacuum left by the withdrawal of U.S. troops, and Brazil third because it spent big on Swedish aircraft.
The U.S. was largest exporter with $36.2 billion, up from $26.7 billion in 2013 and a 50.4 percent share of the global market. Next came Russia with a distant $10.2 billion, Sweden, France, and China. Total above-board weapons deals last year amounted to $71.8 billion around the world, up from $70.1 billion in 2013.
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