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Defense budget up 5.1%

The government on Tuesday called for a 5.1 percent increase in its defense budget for next year to improve defense and the welfare of its soldiers.

The Ministry of National Defense has drawn up a spending plan worth 34.6 trillion won for 2013, up from 32.9 trillion won this year.

It plans to allocate 24.1 trillion to the operations and maintenance of its strategic military bases, which includes boosting the health and welfare of its soldiers, and providing other necessities such as high-tech training equipment. Soldiers will also be given a 15 percent raise in their annual salary.

According to the defense ministry, it has issued its budget plans to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, which oversees all national spending, and plans to submit it to the National Assembly next month for approval.

Also, the military will spend 10.5 trillion won in 2013, up 6.3 percent from 9.9 trillion won this year, on boosting its defense capability.

This budget includes a 468 billion won project to develop the next-generation fighter jet program, dubbed “FX,” for which consortia from Lockheed Martin, Boeing and EADS are currently bidding to supply their latest aircrafts.

Korea plans to place 60 fighters at its air bases under the FX program.

“The increased budget for defense improvement is to further counter threats from North Korea and develop key strategic systems ahead of the wartime command transfer in 2015,” a defense official said.

The ministry added that this includes boosting spending on improving its K-9 howitzer weapon systems and developing key future defense technologies.

By Park Hyong-ki (hkp@heraldcorp.com)
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