President Moon Jae-in has stressed the urgency in improving South Korea's ability to defend against the North, which has test-fired three intercontinental ballistic missiles and conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test this year. But, the SIPRI says that South Korea has dominated the emerging producers block with 20.6 per cent increase in sales of arms previous year.
Sales of weapons and military services by the world's largest defense contractors totaled $374.8 billion in 2016, a 1.9 percent increase from the previous year, according to the most recent worldwide arms industry data from Stockholm global Peace Research Institute. 'The major economic difficulties experienced by Russia in 2016 have contributed to a slowdown in the rate of increase in the arms sales of Russian companies, ' says SIPRI Senior Researcher Siemon Wezeman.
In defiance of repeated global condemnations and sanctions, Pyongyang fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last week, which reached an altitude of 4,475km before splashing into the sea 950km east of its launch site, North Korean state media said.
Topping the list was the United States, which continues to maintain the world's largest military expenditures. The nation is a top arms producer among emerging countries in the sector, including Brazil, India and Turkey.
Wezeman said South Korea is "increasingly turning to its own arms industry to supply its demand for weapons" and is "aiming to realize its goal of becoming a major arms exporter".
Military arms sales by the world's top 100 producers rose 1.9 percent in 2016, the first year of growth in five years, a Swedish think tank said Monday.
South Korean arms exports, which amounted to US$253 million in 2006, reached US$2.5 billion a year ago, according to official data. The firm has developed a supersonic training hunter, the T-50 Golden Eagle, alongside American arms giant, Lockheed Martin.
Its missiles, howitzers, submarines and warplanes are particularly popular in Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and South America.
The top-100 producers' combined sales totalled $374.8bn past year, up 1.9% from 2015.
Russian arms manufacturers who are close third to the USA and European companies recorded combined sales of $26.6 billion in 2016, a 7 percent growth.
Globally, US producers alone accounted for 57.9 per cent of the total sales figure, ahead of the British (9.6 per cent), the Russian (7.1 per cent) and the French (5.0 per cent).
Lockheed Martin, the world's largest arms producer, increased its arms sales by 10.7% to $40.8bn, driven largely by deliveries of its F-35 fighter jet.