DX (Defense Expo) Korea is, literally, a defense exposition held bi-annually in Korea. Originally, there was one major international defense expo in Korea; it has been the ADEX (Aerospace & Defense Expo), which was originally a Seoul Airshow since the 1990s. But ADEX is basically an airshow with defense expo; it couldn’t keep on going every year; large airshows take considerable time to prepare, so it has been limited as bi-annual on odd-numbered years like 2015. I covered ADEX2015 last year, so you can check SADJ Volume 8, Number 4 to find out what it was like.
Anyway, since ADEX is bi-annual event, another defense expo, mainly by the ROK (Republic of Korea) army, started in 2014; it is DX Korea, and this year it was held in KINTEX, a large convention center located in Ilsan city, which is on the northeast side out of a Seoul suburb.
This year, DX was held from September 7-10, 2016, and around 250 companies from 35 countries opened 1,200 booths to show their new defense products; while the major goal for most of them was to get a lucrative ROK Armed Forces contract, who buys considerable amounts of hardware from many countries, they also aim at other markets as well, since considerable numbers of foreign buyers (mainly from Asian countries) come to ADEX or DX for potential purchases.
Whatever the purpose of the vendors, this year’s DX was considerably well-conducted, with many visitors and potential buyers stopping by. Not only are there static displays, DX Korea also has mobility demonstrations of tanks and armored vehicles right out of the show site, and on one day, there’s usually (this year included) a huge firepower demo, which shows live fires from 20-mm cannons to 155-mm SPHs and tank guns.
While the show is mainly focused on large weapons like tanks, missiles and armored cars or artillery equipment, there’s also a considerable number of small arms and munition-related things on display; especially for this year—not only S&T Motiv (The former Daewoo precision), who virtually had monopolized The Korean military small arms market, but also Dasan Machineries and Caracal of UAE showed considerable presence in the show.
Until last year, in fact, there’s only one company, S&T Motiv, which was authorized to develop and manufacture military small arms in Korea and worked as de facto government arsenal. (Actually, S&T Motiv’s firearms factory was in fact a government arsenal for making M16A1s—it was handed over to the Daewoo group around the early 1980s, but while it was nominally a civilian company, it almost worked like a government arsenal as the only Korean small arms company authorized to supply the Korean Armed Forces.) However, from late last year, Dasan also was authorized as well, so the Korean military small arms market, once heavily monopolized by S&T Motiv, suddenly became a competition market. And Caracal is also trying to get into Korean and other Asian military markets as well, with Dasan as their in-country partner.
The first clash between Dasan and S&T Motiv was S&T Motiv’s victory. That was a trial for the new light machinegun (5.56 mm) to replace K3 LMGs, and Dasan submitted a slightly modified version of the ARES16, while S&T Motiv submitted an upgraded version of the K3. Army tests showed that S&T’s model was slightly better than the ARES16, so S&T became the winner.
But there’s another big challenge for both Dasan and S&T Motiv; the Korean army is now considering a new-generation assault rifle, which would replace the K2 and K1 series of rifles around the 2020s; and now nobody can predict whether that would be S&T’s or Dasan’s, or other foreign rifle companies who would team with these two. Whatever the result may be, it will become considerably interesting, because ROK Armed Forces are now much larger than UK-Germany-France altogether, so the market sum for military rifles would be HUGE!