India South Korea Relation Context : There is a growing India-South Korea strategic synergy  in the defence domain after Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visit to South Korea on a five-day tour of Northeast Asia, making South Korea his second stop after Japan. Developments that took place during the visit

  • India and South Korea have successfully concluded a military logistics agreement.
  • The two countries also formulated a forward-looking road map to take bilateral defence industry cooperation to the next level. This is a key area given that the Indian government has decided not to use Chinese systems and components in the broad defence electronics sector and India is yet to develop an indigenous capability to fill in this gap whereas South Korea offers high-end and sophisticated defence electronic capabilities.
  • Two MoUs (memorandum of understanding) to further defence educational exchanges and extend logistical support to each other’s Navies were also signed.
  • South Korean industry was also invited to explore the feasibility of local production of items, used in main weapon systems imported by Defence public sector undertakings (PSUs).
  • A number of proposed areas of cooperation in land, aero and naval systems, research and development cooperation and collaboration in testing, certification and quality assurance were also listed on the road map.
  • India’s push for stronger defence cooperation comes against the backdrop of the Indian Army’s induction of the K-9 Vajra self-propelled howitzers, which is a version of the South Korean K-9 Thunder. South Korean defence industry, Samsung-Techwin, and India’s Larsen & Toubro had entered into an agreement for the sale of 100 howitzers in May 2017.
  • Defence Minister also proposed to set up a joint task force that will identify military systems that can be locally produced in India and will be economically viable for Korean companies to participate in.
Way Forward There is a growing synergy and complementarity between South Korea’s New Southern Policy and India’s Act East Policy, both of which seek to establish a stable, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific order.  While India’s relations with South Korea are improving, it remains to be seen how India will balance the dilemma of worsening tensions between South Korea and Japan, another of India’s vital strategic partners in the region and second the complication in Seoul’s closeness to China. What is a military logistics agreement?
  • Under a logistics agreement, military facilities in partner countries can be used for refuelling of aircraft and ships, repair, maintenance, replenishment of provisions and as resting and transit points for soldiers. 
  • This increases turnaround time and also saves on costs when operating far from own borders.
Significance of recently concluded military logistics agreement
  • India will be able to get assured logistic support when it operates in the Indo-Pacific in the ports of South Korea.
  • It will also help to extend the reach, presence and sustainability of Navy ships when deployed at great distances from home ports.
  • It will place South Korea amongst close partners like the US and France that have similar bilateral pacts.
Source: Also Read:- Developments in India and Japan Relations India’s Foreign Policy Needs Rework In The Next Five Years