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After a robust year, KAI vows to expand overseas business

 After securing a multibillion-dollar project to produce homegrown fighter jets late last year, the nation’s sole aircraft manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries said Thursday it would expand its global business, focusing on a U.S. program that plans to buy about 350 trainer aircraft.

In a meeting with local investors and market analysts, KAI CEO Ha Sung-yong said it made 2.9 trillion won in sales last year with an operating profit of 28.57 billion won, calling it a record performance since its establishment in 2000. The firm has also secured 10 trillion won worth of new orders, a step toward its vision of achieving a long-term growth. 
KAI's main factory in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province (KAI)
KAI's main factory in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province (KAI)

“The year 2015 was a year that proved the potential of our vision on achieving 10 trillion won in sales and becoming the top 15 aircraft manufacturer by 2020,” he said.

“We will carry out major development projects such as KF-X, (development of) light civilian-use helicopters and light armed helicopters and will secure (contracts from the U.S. military’s) T-X project at all costs in order to demonstrate the Korean aerospace industry’s potential power to the world.”

KAI believes that it could generate about 38 trillion won worth of revenue if it wins the U.S. Air Force’s trainer program, codenamed “T-X.” The program is expected to begin in 2017.

The firm wants to expand overseas because the export markets were more profitable and produced higher margins, he added.

KAI’s sales last year grew 26 percent from 2014. Its operating profit surged 77 percent with a 416 percent increase in new orders.

Last year’s figure showed that the company was expanding its business to foreign markets, noting that 62 percent of its sales were earned from overseas.

This year KAI aims to achieve 3.5 trillion won in sales with 350 billion won of operating profit and 6.5 trillion won worth of new orders. The company endeavors to grow more than 20 percent a year until 2020.

Tracking KAI’s major achievements last year, the CEO said the firm aimed to cement its status as an aircraft exporter.

KAI’s key export vehicles are the FA-50 and the T-50 fighter-trainer jet, developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin. In the commercial aviation sector, it supplies key parts and frames to Boeing and Airbus.

Last year, KAI made the first delivery of its multi-mission jets or FA-50PH to the Philippines and it is working to meet the delivery schedules for orders secured from Iraq and Thailand.

KAI has also received plane orders from Indonesia, Turkey and Peru for the T-50 series jets and the KT-1 tandem. KAI also plans to reinforce its marketing to secure new overseas orders for T-50 jets by the end of the year. It is also eyeing sales of the Surion, the first-ever Korean-made helicopter developed in 2010, to Indonesia, the Czech Republic and Iraq.

By Cho Chung-un(