Show Report: DX Korea 2018
ABOVE: K3Para Light Machine Gun. Still unadopted but suggested to the Korean Army special forces. This one is not only shortened, but also uses many new components developed for ROK Army’s next generation squad machine gun.
DX (Defense Expo) Korea is a defense exposition held bi-annually in South Korea. Originally, there was a single major international defense expo in South Korea—the ADEX (Aerospace & Defense Expo), but ADEX is basically an airshow plus a defense expo, so it couldn’t keep going every year because large airshows take considerable time and effort to prepare. Thus, it has been limited as bi-annual on odd-numbered years like 2015. Since air shows naturally emphasize aerospace products, in 2014 another bi-annual defense expo launched—this time mainly emphasizing ground forces. This ground force expo is DX Korea, which is usually held in KINTEX, a large convention center located in Ilsan city, which is on the northeast side of the Seoul suburbs.
This year, DX was held from September 12-16, with 30 countries’ 250 companies that occupied 1,200 booths to show their top-of-the-line defense products. While most companies were focused on selling their products to ROK Armed Forces, which still has 600,000 personnel and spends lucrative sums of money every year, the companies also tried to sell to other countries, especially Asian/Middle Eastern countries that sent many buyers or military attaches.
While the result of those sales varies, one can see many interesting things there—in addition to the static displays, there’s mobility demonstration of tanks and armored vehicles every day, and if you have enough time, you can be invited to see the live fire demonstration of Korean-made weapons.
Anyway, if you tracked what happened in the Korean small arms industry as well, you probably know the monopoly of S&T Motiv in Korean military small arms procurement had collapsed, at least on regulation. (Until recently, only S&T Motiv could do that, even guaranteed by regulation. Now it’s changed.) Now another Korean company, Dasan Machineries Company, can supply small arms to the Korean military. Until last year it was teamed with Caracal (UAE) and suggested CAR816 and its variants to the Korean military, but now it’s trying to sell its own piston-driven carbine, DAR-15P and its variants. Also, Dasan Machineries is trying to sell a new AR-based 9mm SMG, which has some potential as a replacement of assortments of SMGs in the Korean military such as MP5s and K7s.
While Dasan tries hard to get large contracts from the Korean military, S&T Motiv’s de-facto monopoly in this field is not easy to break. Selecting new rifles to replace the current K1/K2 will take some more time, and the army is buying considerable numbers of K2C1 as a stopgap, which is basically a flat-top, “railed” version of the K2 rifle. Also, the ROK Army’s new program of 5.56mm machine guns, which would replace K3s, concluded with S&T Motiv’s win—their version of an updated K3 won over Dasan’s license-built Shrike.
S&T Motiv announced two new weapons this year. One is an AR-based semi-auto DMR rifle that fires .308 Win. This is not a result from a direct ROK Army demand but S&T’s own initiative; however, there’s some talk over buying the semi-auto DMR rifle within the Korean military, so maybe it can be adopted within the near future.
Another firearm S&T Motiv developed was a 9mm revolver (6rds); it chambers 9mm Luger, with a full moon clip. It was developed by the Korean police force’s requirements (now under evaluation), which require 6-shot capacity with the same length and weight of a Smith & Wesson Model 60. It also will have some “smart” modules inside its grip, which can record the time and number of rounds fired. S&T even developed a new, less-lethal round for this revolver.