Airbus DS offers South Korea a collaboration to export its new combat aircraft

Mid-September, Warsaw ordered 48 FA-50 light fighters from South Korea for $3 billion. The device, derived from the T-50 Golden Eagle training and attack aircraft, will replace the Mig-29s still in service with the Polish Air Force, and support the F-16s already in service, as well as the F-35As ordered in 2019. According to Warsaw, which has also become intimately close to Seoul with the order of K2 tanks, K9 self-propelled guns and K239 multiple rocket launcher in an unprecedented effort to modernize and extend its military capabilities, this order was largely influenced by the attractive prices and delivery times offered by the South Korean aeronautical industry, particularly in the face of the other considered alternative, the F-16V American. Obviously, the attractiveness of South Korean offers in this field has not escaped Airbus DS, the European aeronautical group having, it seems, proposed to Seoul a collaboration to export the FA-50 but also the other South Korean planes, in particular in Europe.

Indeed, according to the South Korean Minister of Industry, Lee Chang-yang, quoted by the Yonhap press agency, the CEO of Airbus DS, Michael Schoellhorn, would have made a proposal to him in this direction during a meeting in Seoul, in order to extend the cooperation of the European group with the South Korean space aeronautics industry. According to the details given by the Minister, several subjects would have been discussed, such as the deployment of an Airbus R&D site in South Korea, as is already the case in India, Malaysia, Singapore and China. In addition, some cooperation would be considered in the field of semiconductors, batteries, display systems, software and 3D printing.

KF21 Boramae first flight Germany | Defense Analysis | Fighter jets
The KF-21 Boramae made its first flight in July 2022

However, beyond technological cooperation in terms of subcontracting and co-development, there was also talk, in this discussion, of a collaboration between Airbus DS and the South Korean aeronautical industry, to export the aircraft combat weapons developed by Seoul in Europe. This discussion was undoubtedly spurred by the sale of the FA-50 to Poland, especially since no equivalent aircraft is in the Airbus DS catalog to date. But beyond the case of the Golden Eagle, also looming, and in the relatively short term, the KF-21 Boramae, the new medium combat aircraft of which two prototypes are undergoing an intense test campaign, and which will very soon represent a strong competitor against the Swedish JAS-39 E/F Gripen, but also against the Rafale French and its new versions F4 then F5, especially since the South Korean fighter will be offered at an aggressive price, making it an alternative to these two aircraft, as well as to the American F-16V.

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