28 Maret 2014

Korea Exports 12 FA-50s to Philippines

28 Maret 2014

Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief-of-Staff Emmanuel Bautista looks at a miniature model of an FA-50 fighter jet after the signing of an agreement between the Department of National Defense and Korea Aerospace Industries on Friday. The deal involves around US$528 million worth of military aircraft and support services. (photo : ABS-CBN News)

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) signed a $420 million (450 billion won) contract Friday to export a dozen FA-50 light attack aircraft to the Philippines.

In a signing ceremony, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) CEO Oh Young-ho inked the deal that will deliver the first batch of jets late next year. The delivery is expected to be completed by 2017.

As the transaction is signed under a government-to-government deal, KOTRA participated in the signing on behalf of KAI because the agency is in charge of the Korean government’s commercial transactions.

“The deal with the Philippines, following one with Iraq last year, is boosting confidence that Korea is competitive in the fighter market,” KAI CEO Ha Sung-yong said.

With the deal, KAI has put the second Southeast Asian country on its customer list.

It has sold 16 T-50 supersonic trainers to Indonesia, 40 KT-1 basic trainers to Turkey and 20 KT-1s to Peru. It also signed with Iraq to sell 24 FA-50s in December.

KAI believes a series of sales will contribute to the Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province-based firm, establishing itself as a competitive presence in the market for lower-priced fighters.

“Traveling around the world to market our products, we have found the status of Korean aircraft going up,” the company head said. “We are now focusing on manufacturing high-performance planes (to continue the upturn).”

In the competition, the KAI product beat Swedish Saab JAS-39 Gripen, Israel Aircraft Industries’ Kfir and F-16 as well as BAE Systems’ Hawk-128, Russian Yakovlev’s Yak-130 and Czech aircraft producer Aero Vodochody’s L-159, according to the Korean firm.

The two sides were closing in on the deal last year after the Manila government signed a memorandum of understanding, but the decision was delayed after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Southeast Asian country in November.

However, President Park Geun-hye asked for cooperation from Philippine President Benigo Aquino III in October, when they agreed to expand cooperation in defense and economy in Seoul.

KAI is set to try to continue the winning vibe in its sales pitch for other countries including Botswana, the United Arab Emirates and eventually the United States.

In the U.S. Air Force’s trainer program, codenamed “T-X,” aimed at replacing its fleet of T-38s, the U.S. side plans to purchase 350 new aircraft worth billions of dollars.

In the U.S. competition, KAI, teaming up with U.S. aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, is expected to compete with a BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman consortium and one combining Boeing and Saab Group.

KAI and Lockheed jointly developed the T-50 supersonic trainer and the FA-50 is a light combat version of the T-50.

The FA-50 can carry a weapons load of up to 4.5 tons and can be armed with a wide range of weapon systems including AIM-9 sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles, AGM-65 air-to-ground tactical missiles and GBU-38/B Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), which allows the aircraft to counter multiple threats. Its maximum speed is Mach 1.5.

The FA-50, first unveiled in January 2006, was developed in Korea as a possible replacement for the Air Force’s F-5E/F when the aging fighters are retired.


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