Good morning everyone,
I congratulate you on the opening of the Korea Aerospace & Defense Exhibition 2007. I wholeheartedly welcome officials and business leaders of the aerospace and defense industry from all around the world.
I understand the exhibition has been scaled up both in size and in the quality of equipment and products to be unveiled compared with two years ago. This exhibition seems set to serve as one of the leading defense industry exhibitions in the Asia-Pacific region both in name and in fact.
I offer my sincere gratitude and encouragement to those who have exerted great efforts to organize this meaningful event.
Korea has been striving to become a defense industry powerhouse in the world.
Export contracts valued at $500 million have already been signed to date this year. Total annual exports are expected to surpass $1 billion by the end of the year. It is an epochal growth surge from the mere $140 million in 2002.
The KT-1, a basic training aircraft, and the K-9 Thunder, a self-propelled howitzer, have been exported to countries around the world and hailed for their outstanding performance. Also grabbing keen attention from many nations is a new line-up of Korean-made weapon systems, including a next-generation tank that debuted in March, an infantry-fighting vehicle and naval vessels.
In particular, T-50 Golden Eagle stands out as one of the leading advanced supersonic jet trainers in the world, having demonstrated its superiority and stability through thousands of test flights. The goal of securing more than 30 percent of the global market with this trainer is clear testimony to our confidence in its unrivalled performance and price competitiveness.
The space development sector is also witnessing rapid progress. The case in point is the Korean-made Arirang-2 EO Satellite, which is orbiting the earth and providing us with high- resolution pictures. The construction of the Naro Space Center in Goheung, Jeollanam-do (province) is in its final phase. In addition, next year we will see the first Korean astronaut while a science and technology satellite will be catapulted into space by our own launcher.
All these achievements are attributable to the ceaseless endeavors of each and every one of you in the aerospace and defense industry, which deserve my heartfelt appreciation once again.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Participatory Government has been concentrating on the development of the aerospace and defense industry all along.
Under my administration, R&D expenditures for national defense increased to 1.2 trillion won this year from 700 billion won in 2002, up around 80 percent. National defense technologies are being increasingly transferred to the private sector, and cooperative research among industry, academia and research institutes is expanding. On top of this, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) was newly established, thus improving expertise and transparency in the military procurement system.
The Republic’s aerospace industry has now laid a solid foundation for a new take-off as the result of the Government’s support for enhancing the financial structure as well as overseas marketing efforts. The Government’s proactive endeavors to nurture the industry include preparing the Space Development Promotion Act and other basic programs while strengthening cooperation with Russia and other advanced nations in the field.
The Government’s unsparing support for the industry will continue in the years to come in the form of expanding investment in the core technology, facilitating financing and strengthening joint marketing for exports. By doing so, the country will have the capacity to independently develop a high-tech weapon system by 2020 when the Government’s defense reform projects are scheduled to be completed. Then the Republic will become one of the 10 leading countries in the field globally.
Ladies and gentlemen,
There is no doubt in my mind that the country’s aerospace and defense industry will succeed without fail.
We have the potential and confidence born of the fact that we have built with our hands a manufacturing industry commanding the world’s sharpest competitive edge. More than anything, our superior human resources in science and technology as well as the state-of-the-art IT infrastructure will be instrumental in ensuring success.
I trust that this exhibition will serve as an excellent occasion confirming the potential and possibilities of Korea’s aerospace and defense industry. I hope all of you will have a rewarding and good time during the exhibition.