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S. Korea seeks to sell 10 fighter jets to Slovakia

President Moon Jae-in arrives at Seoul Air Base in the back seat of an FA-50 fighter jet to attend a defense exhibition on Oct. 20. (Cheong Wa Dae)
President Moon Jae-in arrives at Seoul Air Base in the back seat of an FA-50 fighter jet to attend a defense exhibition on Oct. 20. (Cheong Wa Dae)
Korea Aerospace Industries, South Korea’s sole aircraft manufacturer, is in talks with the Slovakian government to sell 10 FA-50 homegrown trainer jets in a $500 million deal, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said Wednesday.

KAI is set to sign a deal with Slovakian aircraft repair company LOTN on Wednesday in Hungary upon President Moon Jae-in’s European tour this week.

The president, who arrived in Budapest on Tuesday for a state visit, will hold a summit Thursday with the prime ministers of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. It will be the second summit between South Korea and the Visegrad Group.

The FA-50, developed by KAI and Lockheed Martin, is a combat variant of the T-50 supersonic trainer jet and the nation’s major defense export. Armed with AIM-9, AGM-65G and other missiles, the plane can conduct air-to-air and air-to-ground operations.

The jet came under renewed spotlight last month when Moon, clad in a flight suit, arrived at a defense exhibition in the back seat of an FA-50 jet fighter. The president was the first South Korean president to fly over domestic territory on a fighter jet.

Slovakia has been seeking to replace its aging fleet of L-39 Albatros trainer jets. The country is expected to issue a request for proposals in the first half of next year.

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)
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