Korea Aerospace Industries, Ltd. (www.koreaaero.com, KAI) is in the limelight from foreign aerospace buyers. This is due to KAI's brisk overseas export activities at the Paris Airshow held in June this year, the export of KT-1 basic training aircraft to Turkey, and the possibility of exporting the T-50 supersonic advanced training aircraft to the UAE. Also, the company's New Double-Ten Embodiment Plan has helped.
KAI president and CEO Chung Hae-joo who concurrently serves as chairman of Korea Aerospace Industries Association, expressed high expectations saying: "The T-50 supersonic advanced training aircraft's export to the UAE is expected to be a new turning point for the export enlargement of the domestic defense industry." Provided this export succeeds, the year 2007 will be remembered as a remarkable year in the export history of the Korean defense industry, he added.
Harmonized organic cooperation
First of all, KAI became the object of interest by demonstrating the domesticmade T-50, KT-1 and T-50 simulator at the Paris Airshow, the largest aerospace exhibition in the world, held in June of this year.
Chung remarked: "KAI achieved much progress in the company's participation plan in the next-generation A350 civil aircraft project." It is said that KAI has agreed to beef up strategic partnerships with globally prominent aircraft producers such as Boeing and Airbus in the hopes of enlarging civil demand. It is also practicing extensive marketing to European countries at the Paris Airshow, in hopes that the company's T-50 will be purchased, according to Chung.
At the upcoming Seoul Airshow (www.seoulairshow.com) a mock-up of a Korean helicopter, whose joint development with France's Eurocopter is underway, is expected to draw much interest from the press at home and abroad, he said.
The Turkey basic training aircraft project is a business deal of a total of 55 aircraft worth US$500 million.
Following the first contract with its Turkish counterpart on August 3rd in which the company agreed to deliver a total of 40 KT-1 basic training aircraft, KAI is due to deliver aircraft through 2013 by contracting an additional 15 KT-1 aircraft next year.
Chung emphasized that this export deal with Turkey is both the first example of the Korean aerospace industry receiving an order through cutthroat international competition with the United States and Brazil and also the largest export in the history of the domestic aerospace industry. Historically, the US and Brazil led the market of basic training aircraft.
Since our KT-1 basic training aircraft was chosen as Turkey's basic training aircraft Korea is expected to be able to attain our superiority over the competition in the Turkish market in the years to come, Chung noted.
In addition, this export into Turkey deserves attention as a case of pioneering the defense industry export market which overwhelmed competing countries. In the light of a political, military and diplomatic standpoint the public and military sectors were harmonized in the related business circles -- the Ministry of National Defense (MND), Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE), Air Force, and Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
Concerning KAI's plan for the sake of export enlargement of the defense field, President Chung, a living witness of the Korean aerospace Industry, explains: "The U.S. military-specialized magazine The Defense News rated the development features of our defense industry high, reporting that Korea's defense industry is emerging as a global power which exports topnotch products from a mere assembly factory level in the past."
As Korea's defense product's export which began centering on ammunition and parts sort, makes great strides with priority given to cutting-edge product such as KT-1 basic training aircraft and K-2 tank technology, this year is forecast to surpass US$300 million, the aerospace veteran said.
He further said that he sees it will be possible for Korea to become one of the top ten global defense export countries sooner or later. Chung added: "KAI is expecting good outcomes within this year by successfully finishing final assessment flights of the T-50 among a scorching heat wave and strong, sandy winds in the UAE." So with supersonic speed aircraft T-50's development success as a momentum, our government also is nurturing the aeronautics industry as the future strategy industry with the view of becoming one of the G8 aeronauticaly advanced countries by 2020.
To that end, it is important to drive forward the domestic munitions industry such as the T-50 project and Korean helicopter development project. This would include home-made aircraft's overseas export plus securing growth engines continuously through international joint development of the most cutting- edge, large-sized passenger aircrafts. What's more, Chung stressed that we must boost the domestic aeronautic industry's international competitiveness by developing aeronautic parts and materials providers strategically which serve as the groundwork of the aeronautics industry.
As part of such strategies, KAI is encouraging parts companies strategically by concluding a Tailor-made Connection Synthetic Support Agreement with South Gyeongsang province and the Small Business Corporation. On top of that, KAI is currently unfolding diverse efforts including facilitating a tailor-made Education Course by means of an agreement regarding academic industrial cooperation with Gyeongsang National University.
Preparing for new growth
Flight Int'l announced that as of 2005 KAI is 65th among world aeroplane producers and 20th on the basis of completed aeroplane producers. Accordingly, Chung underlined that: "KAI has to prepare a new growth engine so that we can develop into one of the top ten completed aeroplane producers globally as our initial goal."
KAI will strengthen its tie-up with defense companies by diversifying the company's business scope into guided weapons, aero electronics equipment and repair business, Chung said. Moreover, the company will stimulate industry competitiveness by supporting the development of competitive parts companies.
In the case of civil demand, KAI plans to take part in international joint development project aggressively by consolidating strategic partnerships with Boeing and Airbus even more, according to Chung.
This way, KAI plans to transform into a synthetic aero defense industry company which encompasses diverse defense businesses and airplanes.
President Chung, on the other hand, garnered interest by receiving the Legion d'Honneur award from the French government on last July 3rd this year in recognition of his contribution to bilateral friendship through the aerospace industry, the future's most cutting-edge industry.
Bilateral trade between Korea and France is forecast to grow greatly from US$5.9 billion in 2005 to over US$10 billion in 2010. In recent years, bilateral cooperation and exchange in the aerospace industry are being enlarged with the helicopter development project and next-generation civil aeroplane A350 business, Chung concluded.