KAI confident of winning U.S. deal

By Seo Jee-yeon
  • Published : Jan 23, 2014 - 20:14
  • Updated : Jan 23, 2014 - 20:49
KAI CEO Ha Sung-yong presents the firm’s 2020 growth vision in an IR session, held in Yeouido, Seoul, Wednesday. (KAI)

Ha Sung-yong, CEO of Korea Aerospace Industries, the country’s sole aircraft manufacturer, expressed his confidence in winning the upcoming U.S. Air Force T-X project that involves replacing outdated trainers.

“The project will be one of the key overseas orders that KAI has set its sights on. I am confident about winning the deal if the competition is launched, as KAI’s T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer is the model most similar to the U.S. Air Force’s F-16 and F-35 fighters,’’ Ha said.

During the first stage of the project, KAI hopes to win up to 400 trainers out of a total of 1,000.

Ha’s comments came during an investor relations session KAI held in Yeouido on Wednesday.

The T-50, codeveloped by U.S.-based Lockheed Martin, is one of KAI’s leading export items. Last December, KAI exported 24 fighter variants of the KAI T-50 to Iraq and provided pilot training.

The Iraqi sale is the company’s second order for the jets, following a $400 million sale of 16 trainer variants of the aircraft to Indonesia in May 2011. The company is waiting for a third export deal, for the T-50, in the Philippines early this year.

Boosted by increased overseas demand for Korean aircrafts, sales of the KAI exceeded 2 trillion won ($1.9 billion) for the first time last year to reflect a 30 percent jump from 2012, the KAI CEO said.

Regarding its 2014 business prospects, the KAI management presented a rosy outlook.

“The company aims to secure 7.7 trillion won worth of new orders and push up sales to 2.3 trillion won in 2014,” Ha said. “This will be a watershed year, helping KAI to move toward its 2020 growth vision.”

KAI also unveiled its 2020 growth vision, under which the company will push up annual sales to 10 trillion won by 2020 and become the 15th-largest aerospace company in the world.

“To realize the vision, every effort will be made to move forward with the KFX next generation fighter project, developing light helicopters and, last but not least, winning the U.S. Air Force T-X project,” the executive said.

KAI also plans on entering the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) market to secure a new growth engine. KAI has already signed a memorandum of understanding with JAL Engineering to see if it can handle MRO services for the Japanese flag carrier.

KAI CEO hinted this could be extended to offering MRO services to Korean budget carriers that currently send planes to Singapore for repairs. The company said the business, if fully launched, could generate revenue worth 1-2 trillion won.

The company head also vowed the firm will continue to invest in aerospace businesses beyond the civilian and military aircraft fields.

By Seo Jee-yeon (