South Korea needs to develop its own aerospace and defense capabilities to maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula, President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday.
Moon also said the country should deploy advanced weapons systems to better defend against North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile threats.
He made these remarks during an opening ceremony for the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX) 2017, a biennial event that will be held for six days at Seoul Airport in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province.
"The government will make every effort to establish a three-pronged defense system at the earliest possible date to strengthen national security," Moon said.
The three elements Moon referred to are the Kill Chain pre-emptive strike system, the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) plan.
The Kill Chain is a system to carry out pre-emptive strikes against Pyongyang's nuclear and missile facilities if Seoul is faced with an imminent threat, while the KAMD would track and shoot down North Korean ballistic missiles heading south. The KMPR would be used to retaliate against the North if it strikes the South.
The government plans to deploy the three systems within the next decade.
President Moon also called for export-oriented arms development, saying this will be a next-generation growth engine.
Moon noted that T-50 supersonic trainers manufactured by Korea Aerospace Industries have sold consistently in overseas markets for the past decade and that the 230mm multiple rocket launching system Chunmoo developed by Hanwha Corp. has received global attention.
"We already have good conditions for export-oriented arms development as South Korea's manufacturing industry and IT are at a world-class level," Moon said. "We also have outstanding technical and scientific personnel and education systems."
Stressing the need to reform the defense industry to meet the needs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Moon vowed to support small- and medium-sized companies as well as venture enterprises entering it.
Toward that end, Moon added he intends to root out corruption related to defense procurement.
The defense exhibition, which brought together 405 defense companies from 33 countries, is taking place amid heightened military tension here following a recent war of words between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The U.S. dispatched F-22 Raptor and F-35 stealth fighter jets and a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber to the air show.
The 7th U.S. Air Force earlier said it expected approximately 200 U.S. personnel to participate in ADEX 2017.
It added that other U.S. assets participating in the event include the A-10 Thunderbolt II, C-17 Globemaster III, C-130J Hercules, KC-135 Stratotanker, E-3 Sentry, U-2 Dragon Lady and RQ-4 Global Hawk.
For its part, South Korea is displaying KT-1 basic and T-50 advanced trainers, K-2 battle tanks, K-9 self-propelled howitzers and guided missiles such as the Chunma and Chungoong.