South Korea confirms potential aircraft swap deal with Spain

20 February 2019

South Korea’s DAPA has confirmed a proposal from Spain to swap A400M transport aircraft (pictured) for Korean-produced platforms thought to include the KAI KT-1 and T-50 trainer aircraft. Source: IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has confirmed a potential plan to swap military aircraft with Spain.

DAPA confirmed in a recent media notice that it has received a proposal from Spain outlining the potential transfer of South Korean-produced aircraft in exchange for Airbus A400M Atlas medium transport aircraft.

South Korean aircraft thought to be the subject of the potential transfer include the T-50 Golden Eagle advanced jet trainer (AJT) and the KT-1 Woong-Bee basic trainer, which are both produced by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI).

DAPA said it has not yet decided whether to proceed with the deal. The agency gave no details about the number of aircraft that could be swapped.

DAPA dismissed news reports in South Korea that the proposal will be discussed with counterparts from Spain later this month. The agency also said that, contrary to reports, it has not been informed by the Spanish government about price details for the A400M.

It had earlier been reported that South Korea and Spain had discussed the potential transfer during a joint defence-industrial committee held in November 2018. Reports said the plan could feature the swap of up to six of Spain's surplus A400Ms in return for 30 KT-1s and 20 T-50s. The value of the deal is about USD1.8 billion.

Neither KAI nor Airbus has responded to Jane's questions on the matter.

The potential deal could be positioned to meet an outstanding requirement within the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) to procure a medium transport capability to support tactical airlift operations and replace legacy fleets of Lockheed Martin C-130H aircraft. Both Airbus and Lockheed Martin have been positioning for this programme for several years.

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