It’s good to see you all. The Agency for Defense Development marks its 50th anniversary next month. Congratulations! It is very meaningful for me to visit ADD’s Daejeon headquarters, which spearheads our cutting-edge, scientific advances in national defense. Immediately after I took office, I visited ADD’s Anheung test site and observed a test-launch of the Hyunmoo-2 ballistic missile. The missile’s commanding presence and the ruthless precision of its strike on an offshore target filled me with pride.
ADD is the foundation of our self-reliant and strong defense capabilities. I am proud of you for achieving world-class defense research and development that ranges from high-yield ballistic missiles to radar systems essential for state-of-the-art combat fighters. ADD’s president, Dr. Nam Se-gyu, and its researchers have come together with a sense of duty to defend our nation with our own scientific prowess. I highly praise your hard work and accomplishments.
Prior to today’s progress briefing, I witnessed with my own eyes what our national defense science and technology have achieved. I feel genuinely reassured to see that our cutting-edge strategic weapons possess world-class precision and formidable destructive power. The Republic of Korea ranks 6th globally in military strength, and ADD is the fountainhead of our defense capabilities. We cannot disclose everything to the public, but we can confidently say that we are armed with defense capabilities which can fully fend off and contain any security threat.
Throughout its 50-year history, ADD has turned seemingly impossible tasks into possible ones. Established at a difficult time when Korea could not even make a single rifle, ADD has now managed to develop an indigenous ballistic missile capable of carrying one of the world’s heaviest payloads with a range far enough to defend peace on the Korean Peninsula. This Agency has developed precision- guided missiles one after another, including the Hyunmoo, Haeseong, Shingung and Cheongung. ADD has also exported such ground-weapons systems as the K9 self-propelled howitzer and K2 tank technology, elevating the stature of our defense science and technology.
White Shark, Red Shark and Blue Shark torpedoes designed to destroy submarines and surface ships have proved that we also have considerable technological expertise in maritime-underwater weapons systems. Sonar systems to detect submarines and transmit alerts are safeguarding the precious lives of our troops.
ADD’s competency has even made it possible to defend our territorial waters and airspace more forcibly. KT-1, the first Korean-made basic trainer aircraft; T-50 advanced trainer jets; and FA-50 fighter jets are recognized globally for their outstanding performance and are being exported to countries around the world. The Republic of Korea Air Force used to rely on imported precision-guided weapons, but, here too, we’ve succeeded in localizing production.
Korea’s armed forces have become the world’s 10th military to have their own communications satellite. Within the near future, I expect to see them equipped with a military intelligence reconnaissance satellite built with our own technology.
The Government is infusing a considerable amount of the budget to lay a well-grounded foundation for defense science and technology. Under my Administration, the rate of increase for defense spending doubled while that for expenditures to procure new weapons tripled. This year, our defense budget surpassed 50 trillion won for the first time in our history.
I helped revise the ROK-U.S. missile guidelines through bilateral summits with the United States right after the launch of my Administration, lifting limits on ballistic missile payloads. ADD can now develop missiles dozens of times more powerful without limitation. Going forward, the Government will continue to invest in defense science and technology with a strong determination to take responsibility for national defense and achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula on our own.
National defense science is an area that requires technological prowess as well as a sense of duty and pride in safeguarding the people’s lives. ADD researchers are subject to many personal constraints; they can neither travel abroad freely nor discuss work-related matters with relatives. You have endured these inconveniences and difficulties with a sense that effective security and strong national defense capabilities lie in your hands and with pride for playing key roles in achieving peace. For this, you have my eternal gratitude.
All of you have been given an enormous mission: Lead the Republic of Korea’s national defense science and technology development for the next century. I ask you to please keep the following in mind.
First, ADD must devise higher national defense science and technology capabilities to counter various and ever-more-sophisticated security threats. We should accelerate the creation of a strong, digital military and smart national defense by actively applying Fourth Industrial Revolution-related technologies. ADD has already made achievements with surveillance, reconnaissance and radar – very important fields for highly advanced modern warfare. In that sense, I am very proud and want to congratulate you especially for the fact that ADD succeeded in using our own technology to develop an Active Electronically Scanned Array radar. This core component of our next-generation KF-X fighter project was extremely difficult to make. I ask you to concentrate your capabilities on enhancing our intelligence and reconnaissance abilities even further going forward.
Second, I hope you will proactively contribute by transferring state-of-the-art defense technologies to private-sector industries so that they can make advances that spur demand.
Third, I ask you to actively nurture the export potential of our defense industry by building upon ADD’s accomplishments. Korea has already become a country that can export fighter jets and submarines. Since domestic demand is limited, our defense industry can secure a foundation for continuous progress only if we also succeed in generating foreign demand.
Fourth, I also ask you to make special efforts to address the possibility of accidents while conducting defense science and technology research and to protect and secure your research results. Each and every researcher is both a patriot who maintains security and achieves peace and a vital strategic asset that comprises the Republic of Korea’s national defense capabilities. Your passion and endeavors translate into a sense of comfort that people enjoy every day of their lives. As President, I am very grateful for the fact that ADD is even engaging in R&D for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines by building upon its biochemistry research capabilities. The Government will provide all the support available so that every researcher can receive all the respect due and concentrate exclusively on research.
Each of you in your respective positions is dedicated to building effective security and strong national defense capabilities. I offer all ADD researchers my deepest trust and warmest encouragement.