In an interview with Defenseworld.net, a Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) spokesperson talked about the deal to provide the Philippines with 12 FA-50 jets worth $415.7 million and future prospects around the world.
DW : Firstly, tell us about the development of the FA-50. When did the project start, what was the objective of foreign and S. Korean companies involved in the project?
Spokesperson : KAI developed FA-50 based on T-50, which is an advanced supersonic trainer for fighter pilot training currently in operation in the ROK Air Force, was developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin. *FA-50 is a light attack variant of the T-50, equipped with tactical data link, precision guided munitions, protection equipment and night mission capabilities. *T-50 is an advanced trainer aircraft for fighter pilot training.
DW : Could you tell us about KAI‘s presence in South East Asia? And the contracts you are currently fulfilling, if any?
Spokesperson : KAI exported T-50 and KT-1 to Indonesia. Now we're close to the contract with T-50 to the Philippines.
DW : Could you elaborate on the contract to supply FA-50 jets to the Philippines?
Spokesperson : KAI is still underway marketing campaigns. The Government of the Philippines hoped to get 12 FA-50s, and we have discussed a lot. Thus, we think that it is close to sign the contract with the Philippines.
DW : Are you expecting any other contracts in the region?
Spokesperson : KAI is seeking to export T-50 family jets to Peru, Chile and Botswana. When the U.S. Air Force's T-38 replacement program begins in earnest, we will do actively for the marketing campaign.
DW : Is it true that KAI will eventually add the Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser to the FA-50 and a host of Israeli munitions? Could you elaborate on this?
Spokesperson : About specification of products, KAI officially would rather not say due to sales confidential.
DW : Iraq, Peru, Poland and Chile are all supposed potential customers of the KA-50. Have any of these nations expressed interest in the aircraft and could possible contracts be in the offering?
Spokesperson : Iraq already contracted with KAI for 24 T-50s last year. There was the press release the other day that Poland selected M346 for jet trainer requirement instead of T-50. KAI is pursuing possible orders from Peru, Chile and Botswana etc.
DW : KAI recently announced it would participate in South Korea's plan to build its own new fighter jet that will replace the older F-4s, F-5s and F-16s. What can you tell us about the plan? Could you tell us about KAI's Smaller KF-X Design? Is it a contender against the F-35 in the FX program?
Spokesperson : KAI is on duty for KF-X, as for Korean Fighter experimental, which is to replace old aircraft such as F-4 and F-5 that have been operated by Korean Air Force, to a medium fighter such as F-16+, by Korean indigenous development. Detailed performance for KF-X has not confirmed yet, however, KAI will take part in this program with passion as a representative aerospace company in Korea.
DW : What is the competitive advantage that KAI has in terms of fighter jets and which global manufacturers are your competitors?
Spokesperson : FA-50 of KAI has strengths for competitive price with good performance as an advanced trainer and light attack fighter, compare to other contenders in low-class fighter markets over the globe. Furthermore, it has received love-calls countries from East-South Asia, Middle East, Africa and South America.