South Korea and Iraq to Enhance Defense Industry Collaboration

SEOUL — The defense ministries of South Korea and Iraq have agreed to amplify their cooperation within the defense industry sector. This decision follows recent discussions in Seoul and signals Iraq's interest in South Korean military technology, notably in helicopters.

According to Yonhap News Agency, South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik and his Iraqi counterpart, Thabet Mohammed Saeed Al-Abbasi, reached the agreement during talks that aimed at broadening bilateral defense relations. The discussions covered various topics, with Shin presenting an array of South Korean defense systems. The ministry highlighted that this meeting builds upon the foundational defense cooperation established by South Korea's export of the T-50 series aircraft to Iraq.

In 2013, Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) and Iraq signed a contract for the delivery of 24 T-50IQ aircraft, a variant of South Korea's T-50 supersonic trainer jet, marking a significant step in military collaboration between the two nations.

During his visit, the Iraqi Defense Minister expressed optimism about the potential enhancement of Iraq's defense capabilities through the acquisition of advanced South Korean weaponry. Furthermore, the ministry disclosed that Al-Abbasi is scheduled to meet with executives from prominent South Korean defense firms, including a planned visit to KAI.

The spotlight on this partnership intensified earlier this month following the inspection of the KUH-1 Surion helicopter by Lt. Gen. Sameer Zaki Hussein Al-Maliki, the commander of Iraq's Army Aviation Command, at KAI's headquarters in Sacheon. This visit has fueled speculation regarding possible future defense acquisitions by Iraq.

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