Exports of S. Korea's aircraft surpass $1 billion for first time in 2023

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : February 10, 2024, 16:21 Updated : February 19, 2024, 17:12
Courtesy of the Korea Aerospace Industries
[Courtesy of the Korea Aerospace Industries]

SEOUL -- Exports of South Korean aircraft soared 320.5 percent year-on-year to a record high of some $1 billion in 2023, state data showed. This marks the highest export figure since the development of the Buhwal, the first homemade aircraft crafted during the Korean War in 1953.

According to data provided by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) on February 10, South Korea's aircraft exports in 2023 totaled $1,010,000,000. Out of this sum, exports to Poland reached $520 million. In 2023, South Korea's aircraft maker Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), delivered 12 units of FA-50 fighter jets to the European nation.

KAI will send the rest 36 after customizing them in accordance with the Polish Air Force's request between 2025 and 2028. FA-50s will be used as the main aircraft for combat missions by the Polish Air Force, replacing its current MiG-29 fighter jets. The upgraded version will incorporate an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar-based detection capability designed to electronically steer the beam of radio waves to point in different directions. 

South Korea's aircraft component exports also achieved a record high of $2.44 billion in 2023, a 34.1 percent increase from the previous year. After reaching $1.5 billion in 2010, aircraft component exports have steadily increased. KAI earned more than 20 percent of its revenue, out of about 3.8 trillion won ($2.8 billion), in the aircraft and parts business.

Along with KAI, other South Korean companies, including defense contractor LIG Nex1, Hanwha Aerospace, a defense solution flagship of Hanwha Group, and the country's flag carrier Korean Air are supplying aircraft components to major aerospace companies such as Boeing and Airbus.
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