Saturday, October 24, 2009

S. Korea's Defense Industry Shows Progress at Show

Defense News


S. Korea's Defense Industry Shows Progress at Show

By Wendell Minnick and Jung Sung-ki

SEOUL - The South Korean defense industry demonstrated both domestic and export prowess at the 7th Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX), from Oct. 20 to Oct. 25 at the Seoul Airport.

South Korean companies showing their wares and services included Doosan DST, Hanwha, Huneed Technologies, Hyundai-Rotem, Hyundai Wia, Kia Motors, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), LIG Nex1, Oneseen Skytech, Poongsan, S&T Dynamics and Samsung Techwin.

KAI showed off its new T-50 Golden Eagle advanced trainer jet, KT-1 basic trainer and Surion utility helicopter. The South Korean Air Force's Black Eagles aerobatics team debuted at the show with the T-50, and performed with the U.S. Air Force's Thunderbirds for the first time.

A KAI official said the company is in discussions with Taiwan for the T-50 to replace its aging AT-3 Tzu Chung fighter trainers, produced during the 1980s by Taiwan's state-run Aerospace Industrial Development Corp.

KAI also displayed its new Surion Korean Utility Helicopter (KUH), which will replace aging UH-1H and 500MD utility helicopters. The aircraft has been in development since 2006, and KAI officials expect its completion by 2012. The program is managed by South Korea's Agency for Defense Development and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute. KAI is leading the KUH's development with the help of Eurocopter.

KAI displayed for the first time four

new helicopter concept models based on the Surion. Two were variants for the Korean Attack Helicopter (KAH) requirement. The first was the "Full Development for Attack Configuration," sharing 60 percent of its components with the KUH, and the second was the "KUH Tandem Cockpit," a "reconstructed attack helicopter modification" that mates the KUH cockpit with an attack helicopter's weapons system. The concept model has a 70 percent component-sharing rate with the KUH.

"The KAHs are currently not operational, no prototypes," said a KAI representative. "We are going to offer both to the government. The tandem cockpit is cheaper but has less capabilities, and the full-attack configuration has more capabilities, but [is] more expensive."

A decision by the South Korean government is expected in 2010 on the exact requirements, and only then will a prototype be developed. "It will take six to eight years to develop and deliver a working prototype," the KAI representative said.

The two other concept models were the KUH-Medevac, with a 91 percent commonality with the KUH; and a KUH-Amphibious Helicopter for South Korea Marine Corps that has a 96 percent commonality rate. The amphibious variant will be both land- and sea-based.


Lockheed Martin clearly showed confidence that its F-35 Lightning II will win the third phase of South Korea's F-X competition, providing a full-scale mockup of the next-generation fighter jet for the show.

Lockheed's Steve O'Brian, vice president for F-35 business development, said South Korea would be able to procure the aircraft, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, and "there are slots in 2014 for international delivery."

However, Boeing plans to challenge Lockheed with the new F-15 Silent Eagle, a stealthy variant of the standard F-15 Eagle fighter.

Boeing's Greg Laxton, vice president, Integrated Defense Systems, said the company looks forward to the competition and is "currently in the process of developing an advanced F-15, which we hope will fulfill Korea's defense capabilities and needs for many years to come."

Boeing is providing 40 F-15K fighters to South Korea's Air Force under a contract awarded in 2002. The South Korean government ordered a second lot of F-15Ks last year to fill its F-X II requirement, according to Boeing.

"We are committed to building on the success of the F-15K next fighter I and II programs, by working with our Korean industry partners to continue to strengthen Korea's aerospace industry," Laxton said.

Joe Song, vice president of Asia-Pacific international business development with Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems, said his company would offer a key option to transfer advanced fighter development technologies to South Korea for a homegrown fighter under the new "KF-X" project.

"We're considering connecting the third phase F-X deal to the KF-X program if necessary, given that packaging some related programs, in general, creates a synergy effect," he said.

In the KF-X program, South Korea aims to develop and produce between 120 and 250 F-16-class fighters beginning in 2013, with technology support from foreign aerospace companies. The aircraft are to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of F-4 and F-5 fighters.

Song added that there is a tentative plan to integrate Israel-based Elbit's three-dimensional sensor fusion/data display system into the Silent Eagle.


The South Korean military has a requirement for eight-wheeled and six-wheeled armored vehicles. Doosan, Hyundai-Rotem and Samsung Techwin are competing for the $1 billion contract, expected to total 1,000 vehicles. A request for proposals is expected next year.

* Samsung Techwin displayed a prototype of its six-wheeled Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) at the show.

"Our vehicle passed evaluation tests in 2007 for two months at Algeria's Army proving grounds in desert and urban combat conditions," a company representative said.

Algeria, along with unnamed countries in Southeast Asia and Latin America, has expressed interest in buying the six-wheel-drive vehicle. "However, the problem with exporting the vehicle is they have not yet been fielded by the military and not yet proven," the representative said.

* Doosan exhibited the eight-wheel-drive Black Fox Armored Wheeled Vehicle (AWV) as its entry into the competition. A company representative said there was already export interest from Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iraq and Malaysia.

* Hyundai-Rotem displayed the six-wheel-drive AMV KW-1 prototype at its booth.

"The [eight-wheel] KW and KW-2 were solely designed by our company without outside assistance; the same is true with the new K2 main battle tank," a company official said.

The vehicle will come in several variants, including armored combat, anti-air gun vehicle, mortar carrier and troop transport.