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According to The Korea Economic Daily Global Edition,
Malaysian government officials are scheduled to visit Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) next month for a light fighter jet contract, media reported, a deal that would help South Korea nearly triple its defense exports.
Representatives of the Malaysian government plan a physical assessment of the FA-50 aircraft at KAI’s domestic facilities in the middle of November,
Defense Security Asia, an industry news site in the Southeast Asian country, quoted unnamed sources as saying late last week.
Malaysia is set to conduct the assessment only for the FA-50, which Poland last month officially signed a deal to import, not for any other contenders for the deal to supply light combat aircraft to the Royal Malaysian Air Force, according to the report.
KAI declined to comment on the report, saying “there has yet to be any decision,” as the South Korean military aircraft manufacturer is in final talks with the government on the deal.
Malaysia is expected to import 36 units of the FA-50 Block 20, the latest model of the light fighter jet, according to industry sources in the country.
The FA-50 Block 20 offered to Malaysia will be equipped with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, according to Defense Security Asia.
The media said in a separate report that the aircraft may be equipped with an AESA radar manufactured by US aerospace and defense conglomerate Raytheon Technologies Corp. Defense Security Asia had mentioned the possibility that the light combat fighter would use an AESA radar that is being developed by South Korea’s Hanwha Systems Co. and Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
Malaysia will most likely select the Raytheon APG-79 AESA radar, which is used by the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft, according to the news site.
The APG-79 AESA model can detect any objects including enemies at a distance of as far as 150 kilometers while tracking down various targets instantly, the media said. The maintenance costs are also low, it added.
KAI is seeking deals with other countries such as Colombia and Egypt to export the FA-50s. In June, it formed a partnership with a global defense major Lockheed Martin Corp. for a US megaproject to buy about 500 jet trainers in around 2024-2025.
Poland may also buy more fighter jets from KAI.
Its CEO Kang Goo-young recently told Polish media that the company will be able to cooperate on a program for the KF-21, South Korea’s first advanced supersonic fighter jet, with the European country once the KF-50 project is completed.
The country is predicted to export more than $20 billion in defense products by year-end, compared to some $7 billion in 2021, according to the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade.
The bright forecast comes as local defense makers are expected to win major export contracts.
Hanwha Defense Co. is predicted to sign a deal worth up to $7.5 billion to sell its Redback armored vehicles to Australia, while Hyundai Rotem Co. is likely to clinch a $1.7 billion contract to ship its next-generation main battle tank, the K2 Black Panther, to Norway, as well as another $1 billion-$2 billion deal to sell the battle tanks to Egypt.
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