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South Korea, UAE to co-develop new transport aircraft

KAI conceives its MC-X military transport aircraft as an alternative to the Lockheed C-130H. (Janes/Jon Grevatt)

South Korea and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly develop a multirole transport aircraft.

UAE state media revealed that the MOU was signed between the UAE's Tawazun Council and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) on 15 January. The council is the UAE defence and security acquisitions authority for the UAE Armed Forces and Abu Dhabi Police.

Details of the UAE-KAI MOU have not yet been made public. KAI had not responded to a Janes request for comment at the time of publication. However, the joint development programme almost certainly comprises the KAI MC-X multirole cargo aircraft.

Under the conditions of the MOU, both parties will undertake joint investment, research, and technological development for the project. This will “further develop bilateral co-operation in the arms industry”, South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said in a statement on 16 January.

At the DX Korea 2022 exhibition, KAI had told Janes that the development of the MC-X would take about “seven to eight years”. The company had added that it was possible that a foreign industry partner would join the programme. KAI appears to have subsequently conducted a technology readiness assessment (TRA), which determined that the project required an international partner.

According to information held by Janes, the MC-X has been conceived as an alternative to the Lockheed Martin C-130H. A model of the concept aircraft displayed at the DX Korea 2022 exhibition shows an aircraft with a high-wing configuration, powered by two turbojet engines.

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