Sunday, April 29, 2012

South Korean Technological Advances for Defense

South Korea adds its own addition to the series of weapons announcements which have been prevalent among states throughout Asia, but the newest news from South Korea is a bit different. A South Korean research institute has announced the development of new technological achievements for their defense industrial base. 

The technology that has been developed is “communications middleware” and falls under the purview of Data Distribution Service Software. This communications technology is very important because the software serves to unite different weapons systems. The software is vastly complex so that it can perform with multiple weapons systems. The complex communications software is required for being able to operate next-generation weapons systems. The ETRI has not only been able to develop the technology, but they have also advanced the communications technology. The greatest advancement has been in speed. The speed involved with response time and the volume of the messages has increased dramatically. Messages with the ETRI technology can be sent twice as fast as current technology allows while managing sending more than 3 million messages per second. This achievement is crucial for the future of weapons systems as they more ever closer to Network Centric Warfare. The technology allows for coordination and communication between different weapons systems. It allows for more efficient defense management, more reliable data being shared, and the ability to receive real time communications for defense and the ability to counterattack immediately.

                                                          ETRI testing the new software

Additionally, the ETRI’s achievements are significant because they were able to develop them domestically. This is a positive development for South Korea. The communications middleware industry in 2012 is projected to gross over USD 9.25 billion. The South Korean defense industrial base is planning to replace their imported software and produce the military software domestically. It is estimated that by replacing the foreign technology from 2014 to 2019, the state will save KRW 240 billion.

While investing into the domestic production of military technologies is expected to advance South Korea’s economy and national security, it is likely to have repercussions in the United States. Historically South Korea has imported communications middleware from the U.S. Prior to the announcements about ETRI’s achievements, there was no domestic capability within South Korea to develop or produce this technology making them dependent on the U.S. South Korea as a market for communications middleware software is substantial. Eighty percent of U.S. sales of communications middleware are directly to South Korea.

The direct effect of this development on American industry is still unknown. Although communications middleware is crucial for military purposes, the market for the technology for civilian purposes is enormous. The technology is vital for high-tech goods like computers, cell phones, tablets, and data systems. The work of ETRI is a positive achievement for South Korean R&D, but the communications middleware industry is still overwhelmingly dominated by American companies. IBM was recently recognized as the industry’s leader in the development of middleware technology. Currently, the ETRI technology is being analyzed by the Object Management Group to verify if the software meets international standards.

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