South Korea said Monday it will sharply raise the defense budget over the next five years to beef up its capabilities against North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.
The budget injection of 8.7 trillion won (US$8.03 billion) is based on the assessment that Pyongyang is believed to have reached a "significant" point in efforts to master the technology to miniaturize nuclear warheads that fit atop missiles, Yonhap news agency reported.
It is part of the ministry's budget plan for the 2016-2020 fiscal period, which calls for 232.5 trillion won in total, a 7 percent increase on average during the cited period compared to its 2015-2019 version.
While costs for maintaining troops are set at 155.2 trillion won and the rest will be for the improvement of military capabilities, the government, specifically, is to invest 6 trillion won in building the country's preemptive strike apparatus, the Kill Chain, and 2.7 trillion won into the development of the low-tier air defense program, the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system, over the next five years.
The aggregate amount is 700 billion won more than the budget plan stated in the 2015-2019 period, which reflects Seoul's will to ensure a stronger deterrence against the belligerent North.
Key assets for the Kill Chain incorporate multi-purpose satellites, Global Hawk unmanned aircraft and Taurus missiles. The KAMD system includes patriot interceptors and mid-range surface-to-air missiles, or M-SAM.
As part of efforts to effectively cope with North Korea's local provocations and to prepare for all-out war with the enemy, Seoul plans to spend 1.8 trillion won on acquiring surveillance systems such as unmanned aerial vehicles and detection radars.
In the face of the North's growing security threats online, South Korea plans to earmark 100 billion won to build a multi-layer protection system and to create a mock training field.
"The mid-term budget plan also focuses on improving circumstances at the barracks and increasing monthly payments to enlistees by more than double," a ministry official said. "We also aim to augment the investment in research and development from the current 6.5 percent of the total defense budget to 8.4 percent by 2020 to further promote defense fields."