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S. Korea eyes exports of FA-50 fighters to Slovakia

All News 11:18 November 03, 2021

SEOUL, Nov. 3 (Yonhap) -- Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI), South Korea's sole aircraft maker, is seeking to join Slovakia's US$500 million project to procure 10 trainer jets, the state arms procurement agency said Wednesday.

KAI is set to sign an arrangement with Slovakia's state-run defense firm LOTN on Wednesday (Hungary time) to ensure smooth bilateral cooperation over its efforts to export homegrown FA-50 fighters, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said.

DAPA Minister Kang Eun-ho will attend the signing event in the Hungarian capital of Budapest. Budapest is the venue for Thursday's summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his counterparts from the Visegrad Group of four central European states -- Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.

Slovakia has been pushing for the defense project to replace its aging fleet of L-39 trainer aircraft. The country is expected to issue a request for proposals in the first half of next year, a DAPA official said.

The FA-50 is a light attack variant of the T-50 trainer jet that KAI has developed with technological cooperation with the U.S. defense firm Lockheed Martin. The FA-50 can be used for both training and operational purposes.

The FA-50 gained media spotlight last month after Moon flew aboard it during a defense exhibition for the first time as a South Korean president -- in a symbolic move to highlight his confidence in the warplane.

While in Hungary, DAPA chief Kang plans to meet military officials from Hungary to discuss bilateral cooperation in the defense industry, officials said.

President Moon Jae-in, wearing a pilot uniform, descends from a South Korean-made FA-50 jet fighter at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, south of Seoul, on Oct. 20, 2021, to attend the opening ceremony of the Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition, a biennial defense exhibition that offers an in-depth look at state-of-the-art military hardware. (Yonhap)

colin@yna.co.kr
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