Feb 23, 2015
Korean Air, Airbus join hands for South Korean fighter project
Codenamed KF-X, the project calls for South Korea to develop fighter jets of the F-16 class to replace its aging fleet of F-4s and F-5s. Some 120 jets are to be put into service starting around 2025.
The partners will jointly take part in a second South Korean government bid for the project set to be closed on Tuesday.
The first government bid for the project fell through earlier this month, as Korean Air did not take part in it.
Airbus confirmed the partnership agreement with Korean Air, saying that the South Korean company first approached it for the project.
South Korea's sole aircraft manufacturer, the Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd., was the sole participant in last week's bid in partnership with Lockheed Martin of the United States. Under South Korean laws, at least two bidders are needed to make a public auction valid.
KAI has a technical edge over Korean Air based upon its experience developing the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer and the country's utility helicopter, Surion, while the latter has larger investment capacity, according to industrial watchers.
Airbus would be able to complement Korean Air in terms of technical issues. The South Korean military decided to use the twin-engine platform over the single-engine one, and Airbus is familiar with the platform after building the multi-role fighter, Eurofighter.