South Korean defence firm LIG Nex1 has won a $3.2 billion deal to export a mid-range surface-to-air missile defence system to Saudi Arabia, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defence said on Tuesday.

The South Korean ministry said that the Saudi defence ministry agreed to buy 10 batteries of a mid-range, medium-altitude interception system called Cheongung M-SAM II that can cope with ballistic missile and aircraft attacks.

The details of the deal were disclosed at the sidelines of the World Defense Show in Riyadh.
A spokesperson for LIG Nex1 could not be reached outside office hours.

South Korea is aiming to elevate its position as one of the leading arms suppliers globally, even amidst fierce competition from other major arms-exporting nations. Data from the Defence Ministry revealed a substantial increase in South Korea’s arms sales, surging to $17 billion in 2022 from $7.25 billion the previous year.

Over the past decade, South Korea has witnessed a significant expansion in its weapons exports to West Asia, with exports to the region soaring nearly tenfold between 2013 and 2022, as reported by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

South Korea and Saudi Arabia on Sunday signed a memorandum of understanding to expand defence cooperation, Seoul’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said, as Seoul looks to ink further arms sales in the region.

In recent years, South Korean companies Hanwha, Poongsan and LIG Nex1 concluded deals with Saudi Arabia, collectively worth around $989 million, for multiple rocket launchers, ammunition and electro-optical systems, and more deals could be in the works, according to a November report by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

With inputs from PTI.

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