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European consortium of Typhoon fighter jet offers technology transfer to S. Korea

MUNICH/MADRID (Yonhap News) -- With South Korea scheduled to select the winner of its project for 60 new fighter jets next fall, the European consortium of Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft has offered to fully share its technology with its South Korean partners.

Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain are partners in the development and production of the Typhoon, with their consortium of Cassidian, a subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company, in charge. Cassidian officials told a group of visiting South Korean journalists, first in Munich and later in Madrid, that their company is committed to transfer their technology to South Korea, if Typhoon beats out its rivals in October next year.

“We think we can provide also a huge technology transfer package,” said Mariano Barrena, vice president of Cassidian Air Systems, a business unit of Cassidian, in Madrid. He also serves as head of the Eurofighter’s bid in South Korea.

He was addressing reporters after a tour of the final assembly line in Spain on Oct. 13. Each of the four nations operates its own final assembly hangar, as the Typhoon is made from parts produced by different companies in the four partner countries.

Britain’s BAE Systems makes the front fuselage, canopy and tail fin; Alenia Aeronautica in Italy puts together the left wing and rear fuselage; EADS CASA in Spain builds the right wing and leading edge slats; finally, Premium AEROTEC in Germany makes the main center fuselage.

Barrena stressed Spain’s three partners will not object to the sharing of their technology.

“When we approach potential export customers, we have a prior agreement on whatever we do,” the official said. “We talk the same language. There’s no possibility of trouble on the transfer of technology.”

In its second bid for the South Korean market, Typhoon is competing with three other fighter models: the F-15SE Silent Eagle by Boeing, F-35 Lightning II by Lockheed Martin and T-50 PAK-FA by Russian firm Sukhoi. Boeing’s bid won Seoul’s earlier project to acquire fighter aircraft.

This year, experts see the bid as essentially a three-horse race among the Typhoon, F-15SE and F-35 Lightning II. Austria, Britain, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia and Spain are currently operating the Typhoon at 16 air bases.

According to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration in Seoul, the project to acquire 60 fifth-generation stealth fighters is worth 8.29 trillion won ($7.2 billion).

Marco Valerio Bonelli, head of public relations and communications for Eurofighter, called the company’s stance a “no black box” approach, saying there would be “no restriction on access to information on technology.”
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