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Airbus defense unit proposes joint push to export S. Korean aircraft to Western Europe

SEOUL– Airbus Defence and Space proposed joint efforts with South Korea to push for exporting South Korea’s FA-50 and other aircraft to Western European nations, Seoul’s industry ministry said Wednesday.

Michael Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, made the proposal during his meeting with South Korean Industry Minister Lee Chang-yang in Seoul meant to discuss ways to boost cooperation in aviation, space and various other mobility sectors, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Airbus proposed a “win-win strategy” of exporting South Korean aircraft to western European nations in light of its deal with Poland of selling FA-50 light attack aircraft and the successful flight test of its KF-21 homegrown fighter jet, the ministry said.

In July, Korea Aerospace Industries, South Korea’s sole aircraft maker, signed a basic US$3 billion deal with Poland to export 48 FA-50 fighters.

The Airbus chief said his company plans to increase the volume of components from South Korean firms from the current 700 billion won (US$529.3 million) per year to over 1 trillion won.

He voiced hope for expanded cooperation in the space field with South Korea and vowed to share details about its joint project cases with European Space Agency regarding South Korea’s plan to establish a space entity.
Lee welcomed the proposal regarding the potential sales of the South Korean military aircraft in Western Europe.

He thanked the Airbus chief for the plan to boost its imports of South Korean aviation parts and asked for the company to buy new kinds of items.

Lee asked Airbus to build a research and development center in South Korea to enhance cooperation in next-generation aviation fields, stressing South Korea’s advanced technology and infrastructure in terms of semiconductors, displays, batteries and software.

In Asia, the company has global R&D centers in China, India, Singapore and Malaysia.

“The Airbus chief said that his company would come up with details about South Korea’s proposal on the establishment of an R&D center,” the ministry said.

Lee also asked to have more South Korean firms in Airbus’ aviation projects from initial stages and to have them as key partners, rather than simple suppliers, according to the ministry.

He suggested Airbus propose detailed items where the two sides can work together, such as 3D printing and resin transfer molding, it added.

Lee then pledged deregulatory measures, and tax and various other incentives to create “the world’s best investment circumstances.”

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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