29 Juli 2016

Korea, US Meet on Fighter Jet Project

29 Juli 2016

KFX fighter jet (photos : naver)

Korea and the United States held their first high-level talks in Washington, Tuesday, on the transfer of jet technologies for Seoul's project to develop its own fighter jets.

The Ministry of National Defense said the two sides discussed the vital intersection of foreign and national security policies on defense technology cooperation, including issues related to the transfer of technologies for the KF-X project.

It was the first high-level meeting of the Defense Technology Strategy & Cooperation Group (DTSCG), which followed the group's working-level talks held in March. The DTSCG was established last year based on an agreement between defense chiefs of the two nations.

During Tuesday's meeting, the Korea delegation, led by Vice Defense Minister Hwang In-mo and Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs Lee Tae-ho, stressed the need for the transfer of key technologies from the United States for the success of the KF-X project, according to a ministry official.

In response, the U.S. delegation, led by David Shear, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, and Rose Gottemoeller, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said the two sides will continue to discuss the issue, the official said.

The official added that details about which technologies will be transferred were not determined during the meeting.

The joint press release of the two sides also said, "The U.S. delegation provided an overview of its conventional arms transfer and regional defense trade policies."

The release added that the two sides concurred on the need for regular information-sharing on relevant issues and decided to continue to utilize the DTSCG to advance policy and strategic discussions on technology security, foreign policy and defense technology cooperation in support of the ROK-U.S. alliance.

The 8.5 trillion won KF-X project is to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of F-4s and F-5s. The government will invest an additional 10 trillion won to produce 120 jets by 2032.

The project is proceeding with the help of the U.S. defense company, Lockheed Martin, which vowed to transfer technologies used in the F-35 stealth fighter in return for Korea's purchase of 40 F-35s, signed in September of 2014.

In early December, the U.S. government approved the transfer of 21 technologies in a "large frame," according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

Since then, negotiations between DAPA and Lockheed Martin officials have been ongoing to list the details, as hundreds of technical items are part of 21 technologies.

Before its official kickoff in January, the KF-X project had suffered a severe crisis after the U.S. government refused in April of last year to allow the defense firm to hand over four core technologies — the active electronically scanned array radar, electronic optics targeting pod, the infrared search and radio frequency jammer and the infrared search and tracking system.

The DAPA said the nation will domestically develop those four technologies.

During the meeting, the Korea delegation also asked the United States to give it technologies related to the development of the medium-altitude unmanned aerial vehicle (MUAV), the official said. Washington said that was being considered added.

The two sides plan to hold the next DTSCG high-level talks in 2017, according to officials.

On the sidelines of the defense talks, Hwang met Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work to discuss views on extended efforts between the two allies to cope with ever-growing nuclear and military threats from North Korea, according to the ministry.

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