Concerns among US defense companies about South Korea supplying arms to Washington’s allies in Europe are likely to rise if Seoul becomes a long-term supplier of such weapons, former Pentagon official Wesley Hallman told Sputnik.
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Politico reported last week that a number of Eastern European countries had increased purchases of arms from South Korea.
“The real question over time is whether Korea is an interim demand filler or long-term substitutor,” Hallman said about the report. “The latter would be what the DIB [Defense Industrial Base] will most worry about.”
Hallman is a 27-year Air Force veteran who previously served in the Pentagon for the Joint Chief of Staff’s strategic plans and policy directorate. He also worked as the Chief Air Force Liaison to the House of Representatives, where he worked with lawmakers on national security matters.
Hallman said the situation would especially be less concerning if South Korea was supplying allies with bullets, bombs, basic land vehicles, and other commoditized items as opposed to higher-end capabilities like the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).
Hallman said he noticed this trend before he left his senior position with the National Defense Industrial Association to run for office in the midterm elections.
“Our FMS [Foreign Military Sales] is already byzantine,” Hallman said. “Couple that with backlogs and supply chain delays, you have a customer demand that’s not going to be filled at needed rates. So, it’s logical they are looking at other sources of equipment/munitions.”
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to Sputnik for comment on the matter.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin earlier this year established a task force to look into overhauling the US arms sales process in order to be able to better compete with other competitors that are able to provide arms to customers sooner.
Politico explained in its report that a number of Eastern European countries decided to increase purchases of weapons from South Korea over the last few months in order to replenish their depleted stocks after months of sending their own military equipment to Ukraine, the report said.
US arms customers in Eastern Europe are increasingly choosing to purchase arms from South Korea at the moment because deliveries are much faster and cheaper, the report said.
South Korea has sold Eastern European countries mobile howitzers and small arms, the report added.
However, Poland signed substantial arms agreements with South Korean defense firms this summer and fall, and other European countries are expected to follow Warsaw’s lead, according to the report.
By Sputnik News Agency