South Korea seeks to accelerate ‘smart defense innovation’

South Korea seeks to accelerate ‘smart defense innovation’

Felix Kim

A new partnership between South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of Science and Information and Communications Technology seeks to advance digital technology to meet the nation’s evolving defense needs.

The collaboration is linked to Seoul’s broader “Digital New Deal” initiative, which aims to promote business development and job security through digital technologies.

“Through the future joint R&D [research and development] project between the two ministries, we expect to further accelerate smart defense innovation linked to the Digital New Deal and contribute to future defense innovation and the realization of ‘Defense Vision 2050,’” South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook, pictured, said as the ministries signed a memorandum of understanding in mid-August 2021.

Defense Vision 2050 seeks to augment operational capabilities with artificial intelligence (AI) and combat robots, according to South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo Institute for Military and Security Affairs.

The two ministries have committed to enhancing defense information and communication technology research and development and to promoting military digital talent, according to their memorandum. To do so, they are establishing a support group to work with government and private sector technology-based organizations in developing research and development promotion strategies and technological road maps, as well as new business discovery and planning, business execution management and demonstration project assistance.

Unmanned systems, such as drones and robots, cyber defense and modernization of scientific and alert systems are among the development priorities, according to a Defense Ministry news release. The agreement also includes specialized education for military officers and noncommissioned officers to acquire skills in software and AI by late 2021.

The overall focus is on technologies that are in high demand for the defense and private sectors, such as those that propel the transition from fossil fuels to electricity to power vehicles and machinery.

“We will strengthen cooperation between ministries so that new digital technologies will not only improve the military’s power but also help the development of private industry,” Minister for Science and Information and Communications Technology Lim Hye-sook said.

Once it demonstrates proof-of-concept for electrification, for example, the Defense Ministry will share research results throughout the military. A similar strategy is expected to be used for military infrastructure upgrades, such as wired and wireless communication networks, as well as data centers.

A “virtuous cycle structure” will be used to channel such innovations from defense to civilian applications, according to the Defense Ministry.

“This business agreement will further solidify the cooperation system between the two ministries that has been promoted so far and will not only rapidly apply the Fourth Industrial Revolution technology such as AI to the military, but also promote the demonstration and spread of civilian technology,” Suh said. “It will be an opportunity to make a significant contribution.”

Felix Kim is a FORUM contributor reporting from Seoul, South Korea.

 

IMAGE CREDIT: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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