Aerospace Industry / Interview
Korean aerospace power to advance to 8th in 2015
Korea is expected to become the world's No. 8 aerospace superpower in 2015, Chung Hae-joo, president and CEO of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) said.
"As Korea is a latecomer in the aerospace industry, the annual volume of the domestic aerospace industry amounts to $1.5 billion, ranking 15th in the world," said Chung in an interview with Korea IT Times.
"Since the 1990s when Korea started to produce KF-16 fighters, Korea has entered the aerospace industry in earnest. For the first time in 10 years, finally, the country exported KT-1 basic trainers it had independently developed. At the same time, it has succeeded in developing the supersonic advanced jet trainer T-50 for the 12th time in the world, achieving a remarkable growth in a short period," he said.
"If this trend continues, Korea will become the world's No. 8 aerospace superpower in 2015," said Chung. At present, Korea's aerospace industry is equivalent to 90 percent of advanced countries' industry in terms of production ability, 80 percent of test appraisal ability and 70 percent of development ability. However, Korea ranks 10th in the world in gross domestic product (GDP) and defense budget volume, key factors boosting development of the aerospace industry.
Korea has also engaged in large-scale aerospace development projects, including the Korea Helicopter Program (KHP), while expanding civilian projects with Boeing and Airbus.
In 2001, Korea exported seven KT-1 air force training aircraft to the Indonesian Air Force in 2001 for the first time and received orders for five additional aircraft in 2005.
The Indonesian Air Force expressed satisfaction in the excellent performance and follow-up military support and shows keen interest in Korean Observation (KO- 1) aircraft.
As the US Defense News reports, Korea's KT-1 is now in stiff competition with Brazilian aeronautical company Embraer to receive orders from the Turkish government for aircraft. Embraer is one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world.
"KT-1 basic trainers have superior price competitiveness and better flight performance compared with other aircraft, so we are expecting good results," said Chung.
"The global market volume of KT-1 class aircraft is expected to reach a total of 600 units by 2012. Korea is expected to export 110 to 180 units or 20-30 percent of the total,' said Chung.
Meanwhile, the T-50 is a supersonic advanced jet trainer developed by KAI and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics of the United States for the Korean Air Force. In 1997, the two companies started a joint project for development of the T-50 and succeeded in developing the aircraft in August last year, after eight years of development. At present, the Korean Air Force is operating the T-50.
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, the principal subcontractor to KAI, provided technical expertise in all aspects of the T- 50 development program and was responsible for developing the T-50 avionics system, flight control system and wings.
The two companies are cooperatively marketing the T-50 internationally. As of August 2005, the South Korean Air Force had ordered about 50 T-50s.
KAI has developed the aircraft systems, integrated logistics support, and the training systems for the T-50 program since its full-scale development started in October 1997, which is unprecedented.
KAI has successfully performed the entire development process of the new aircraft model including: completing the preliminary design in 1998; finishing the detail design through the aircraft OML freeze in 1999; and completing the component manufacturing and final assembly of the FWD, CTR, AFT fuselage and empennage through the Critical Design Review (CDR) completed in 2000. The T-50 has the maneuverability, endurance and advanced systems to prepare future pilots to fly current and next-generation fighters. These characteristics give it an excellent capability as a lead-in fighter trainer and potential light-combat aircraft in many air forces.
The T-50 is designed as an advanced trainer for fighter pilots. It is the highest efficiency training system because it provides trainee pilots rapid transition to a modern fighter environment utilizing the latest advancements in aviation technology. The T-50 can also function as a light combat aircraft for the defense of national borders. The T-50 is the advanced jet trainer for tomorrow's fighter pilot.
"In a nutshell, the T-50 is a sole supersonic advanced jet trainer, boasting the highest function among similar aircraft and excellent price competitiveness. Accordingly, it has enough competitive power to explore the so-called blue ocean market," said the KAI president. The T-50 made its first market debut at the Dubai Air Show held in UAE in November of last year and received favorable responses from the world media and Air Force chiefs from about 30 countries.
In February of last year, a test flight pilot for Raytheon of the United States expressed impressions about his trial flight of T-50 in the world-famous aerospace magazine "Flight International" by saying that the "T-50 is a perfect next-generation jet trainer."
In particular, the US Senate recently ordered the US Air Force to consider including T-50 in the list of candidates for advanced jet trainers, casting bright prospects for Korea to export the T-50 in the future.
According to the Teal Group, a USbased market survey institution, the global demand for T-50 class advanced jet trainers for the coming 25 years will reach about 3,300 units.
"Korea is expected to export about 1,000 T-50s or 30 percent of the total for about $25 billion to $30 billion in the future," said Chung.
|The followings are excerpts from the interview with Chung Hae-joo, president and CEO of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). - ED.
Q: Would you make a brief introduction about the KT-1, which opened the era of Korea's aircraft exports
A: KT-1 refers to a basic trainer developed by pure domestic technology in order to replace Korean Air Force's old-fashioned elementary and middleclass trainers.
Based on KT-1, Korea has completed the development of tactical control aircraft KO-1 and now is in mass production of KO-1.
To satisfy overseas customers' various demands, Korea is also developing the export model XKT-1 equipped with arms and advanced aviation electronic equipment.
Q: Would you comment on the KAI's mid and long-term development plan
A: For stable growth and development of the aerospace industry, the sizable economy is very important. To this end, we should escape from the domestic consumption-oriented market and seek growth engines in the overseas markets.
Accordingly, we should strengthen our ability to compete with advanced companies on an equal footing through persistent management reform activities.
In particular, we should bolster the cost competitiveness and export aircraft carrying the Korean brand, including the KT-1 and the T-50. Through strategic alliances with major civilian airline companies, we should expand the portion of civilian orders gradually with an aim to become the world's No. 10 aerospace company in 2010.
As Korea's representative aircraft manufacturer, KAI will make best efforts to make Korea advance into the ranks of the global top 8 (G8) aerospace advanced countries in 2015 with a sense of duty to lead the nation's aerospace industry.
Q: Would you introduce your company's strategy to enter the ranks of the world's top 10 aerospace companies in 2010 A: First of all, we will actively push for the Korean Helicopter Program and simultaneously we will upgrade our existing business such as the export of the KT-1, T-50 and A350 program by 2007 through the continuous innovation activity and the promotion of global competitiveness.
Starting in 2008, we will exert our best efforts to diversify business areas involving the T-50. With that kind of experience, capability and qualification, we are going to diversify our product lines and develop next-generation helicopters.|
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