South Korea is hoping to become Israel's first overseas client for the Iron Dome missile defense system, IsraelDefense has learned.
Seoul is said to be exploring the system's ability to meet the threat posed by Pyongyang's shells, as well possibly deploying such batteries near sensitive facilities in the South Korean capital.
The deal depends on the possible adaptation of the system to the threat North Korean poses for its southern neighbor, and its Israeli procurement plans.
As previously reported by IsraelDefense, Seoul has offered the Defense Ministry to acquire new ships manufactured by Hyundai Heavy Industries for the INF; and even had several shipyard delegates visit Israel and present an official proposal. The budgets for the project have yet to be approves, but negotiations are ongoing.
South Korea hopes that the IDF's new perennial plan will facilitate the negotiations further. Seoul's lose in a bid to provide the IAF with advance training aircrafts was a bitter disappointment for South Korea, but that has not affected the naval negotiations.
Iran's growing Mediterranean activity mandates the Israel Navy to acquire new battleships.
Until several months ago, it seemed that the Haifa shipyard was a leading candidate for the manufacturing of advance missile ships. The INF needs ships that are bigger that the Sa'ar 5 corvettes, and that need is becoming more urgent in light of Iran's naval activity.
The government has yet to approve such acquisition. At first, Israel looked at the possibility of purchasing LCS class vessels, but the littoral combat ships' price skyrockets. The next option – to have Germany build the ships – was also nixed after Berlin refused to partially fund the project, as it did with the INF's submarines.
At this point, the Haifa shipyard offered to offer hundreds of jobs, as well as invest in advanced facilities that would allow it to build Sa'ar 5 class ships.
The idea of having Israeli shipyards build advanced naval vessels is based on projections that peg global demand for similar vessels at 100 over the next 10 years.
This poses a significant market opportunity and experts said that if 10 orders would be able to cover the investments needed in building the infrastructure needed for the manufacturing process. The Defense Ministry has also asked the Treasury to approve financial aid for the Israeli shipyards, in order to enable them to manufacture mid-size battleships.
Despite the matter being stuck, South Korean delegates still arrived in Israel to offer the Navy their ships. Seoul understands that the INF is interested in its ships only so they could mount its own radar and missile systems on it, as well as make other improvements.
Asian Defence News