Airbus Defense & Space wants to help Korea Aerospace Industries sell its fighter jets in Europe

On November 18, the German Ministry of Defense announced that an agreement had just been reached between Dassault Aviation and Airbus regarding the new generation aircraft. [NGF, New Generation Fighter], meaning in pillar n°1 of the Air combat system of the future, a program led by France in collaboration with Germany and Spain. And this after months of blocking…

In the process, Airbus confirmed this information, which was accepted by the Spanish Ministry of Defense… In France, the Elysée sent a press release – only to the press agencies – to accept an “agreement on the point of being concluded “.

And for good reason: according to Challenges, the discussions are far from over. “98% of the subjects have been fixed, but Dassault will not sign if the remaining 2% are not resolved”, confided a person familiar with the file to the weekly. And to see it as a “German attempt to twist France’s arm” because “if Berlin, but also the Elysée, wanted to annoy Dassault, they wouldn’t do it any other way.”

In any case, Dassault Aviation has not yet made an official comment… Neither has the French Ministry of the Armed Forces. It should be noted, in passing, that in an interview broadcast on the same day as LCP, the CEO of the French aircraft manufacturer, Éric Trappier, mentioned on several occasions, the need to always have a “plan B”…

However, on November 16, the Yonhap news agency reported that Michael Schoellhorn, the CEO of Airbus Defense & Space, met with Lee Chang-yang, the Minister of Industry of South Korea, to discuss “the development method of cooperation in aviation, space. and various mobility sectors”.

As a reminder, relations between Airbus group and South Korea are very good… with cooperation established with Korean Aerospace Industries in the field of helicopters. [tant civils que militaires] or the sale of four A330 MRTT tanker aircraft to the South Korean air force [RoKAF].

But, obviously, it is a question of going further. “Airbus has proposed a ‘win-win strategy’ of exporting South Korean aircraft to Western European countries, due to its agreement with Poland on the sale of FA-50 light attack aircraft. and the successful flight test of its KF-21 fighter aircraft,” explained the South Korean Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy.

” [le ministre] Lee accepted the proposal regarding potential sales of South Korean military aircraft to Western Europe,” he said.

In addition, Mr. Schoellhorn promised that Airbus will study the possibility of opening an Airbus research and development center in South Korea, wishing to “strengthen cooperation in the fields of next-generation aviation”.

As a reminder, last summer, Poland ordered 48 F/A-50 “Golden Eagle” light fighters from Korea Aerospace Industries for about three billion euros. The South Korean manufacturer has never achieved such success in the European market…

The choice of Warsaw in favor of this device – which is more supersonic – seems logical. Equipped with active antenna radar [AESA] derived from the American AN/APG-83 model, it allowed the Polish air force to find synergies with its F-16C/D Block 52+ [comme par exemple au niveau de la liaison de données]. In addition, these F/A-50s can also be used for the training of its pilots, Leonardo’s M346 Master has not been fully satisfied…

Furthermore, by wanting to facilitate the sale of the F/A-50 in Europe, Airbus Defense & Space could be stepping on the toes of the Italian industrialist… But this strategy is also likely to overshadow AFJT its program [Airbus Future Jet Trainer]announced in October 2020 to meet Spain’s training aircraft needs.

Another question raised by the possible collaboration between Airbus Defense & Space and KAI concerns the KJ-21 Boramae, a 4.5 generation fighter-bomber under development. At this point, the press release from the South Korean ministry is vague: it speaks of a proposal on the “potential sale of combat aircraft”… Is Boramae one of them? And what return(s) can the European group expect?

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