KAI aiming to join bid to build new fighter jet

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KAI aiming to join bid to build new fighter jet

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the country’s only airplane manufacturer, said it will participate in Korea’s plan to build its own new fighter jet that will replace the older F-4s, F-5s and F-16s.

The nation’s air force is expected to order about 100 aircraft, Chief Executive Officer Ha Sung-yong said in an interview in Singapore yesterday. The government is looking for a foreign partner to collaborate on this project to provide some technical assistance, he said. The plane could take up to eight years to build, depending on its size and specifications, he said.

Korea Aerospace and shareholder Samsung Techwin have led efforts to create a domestic defense industry as Korea seeks to pare its reliance on Western countries. Asia’s fourth-biggest economy said in December it will extend its air-defense identification zone to cover islands and an underwater rock, adding to regional tensions that have escalated since China declared control over airspace claimed by its neighbors.

Korea Aerospace plans to participate in a bid to become a risk-sharing partner for Boeing’s 777X aircraft, Ha said.

It plans to submit a bid to participate in the manufacturing of the fuselage and wings of the plane, he said. The company expects a request for participation for this to be sought later this month or in early March, Ha said.

Korea Aerospace wants to get contracts to manufacture components to increase its volume, Ha said. The company has participated in such an arrangement with Airbus Group NV’s A350 aircraft, he said.

Shares of Korea Aerospace have gained 10 percent this year, compared with a 3.7 percent decline in the benchmark Kospi index.

Korea Aerospace expects to win orders from the Philippines soon, Ha said, without providing details. It also expects to win contracts from as many as two more countries this year - one from Africa and another from South America, he said.

The company expects to win orders for T-50 trainer jets and FA-50 light combat jets, he said.

The FA-50, a light combat fighter based on the T-50 trainer jet, was developed together with Lockheed Martin. The plane is being delivered to the Korean Air Force.

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