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Joint development of cargo aircraft with UAE is KAI’s top priority: CEOBy Ji Da-gyum
Published : Feb. 21, 2023 - 14:42
Speaking at the region’s largest international defense exhibition in UAE capital Abu Dhabi, he said the KAI was also eyeing opportunities to export combat helicopters and fighter jets to the Middle East.
Kang said the KAI’s top priority in the Middle East would be to begin the project quickly, adding that both sides “have made efforts to further develop and flesh out the memorandum” by taking the KAI’s participation in the four-day International Defense Exhibition & Conference as an opportunity.
The KAI and Tawazun Council, which is responsible for UAE defense acquisitions, signed a memorandum of understanding as part of a raft of agreements on mid- to long-term cooperation between South Korea and the UAE during Yoon Suk Yeol's state visit in January.
“Both sides agree on pushing forward the project. But we have not reached the stage of discussing when, how, and where to launch the project as well as the scale of the project and budget. The UAE has been making very high demands,” Kang said.
“We expect to take around 12 years (to complete the development): two years of exploratory development, two years of administrative procedure and eight years of system development,” Kang explained, adding that both sides could reduce the time of research and development to 10 or 11 years if they immediately commence the project.
Kang underlined that the co-development of multirole cargo aircraft -- large enough to carry UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters -- will pave the way for the KAI to develop large aircraft. The South Korean military has imported large military transport aircraft, for instance.
The KAI CEO also underscored that the company seeks to export combat helicopters including the Marine Attack Helicopter and Light Armed Helicopter, as well as fighter jets such as the KF-21, to the Middle East.
Kang explained that the UAE has explored South Korean fighter jets, which have fewer limitations in aircraft armament compared to existing US and French-made fighter aircraft.
South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup also attended IDEX 2023, along with around 30 South Korean defense contractors, including LIG Nex1, Hanwha Corp. and Hyundai Rotem, at the invitation of the UAE.
Lee personally gave a briefing on the South Korean weapons system to high-level military officials including the chief of staff of the Egyptian armed forces, Osama Askar.
Lee and UAE Minister of State for Defense Affairs Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi were also scheduled to hold in-person talks Tuesday for a comprehensive discussion on bilateral defense and defense industry cooperation.
This article was written in partnership with the Joint Press Corps.
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