KAI to inject $68.7 mln for development of autonomous drones and single-seater FA-50 fighter jets

By Park Sae-jin Posted : March 8, 2024, 15:23 Updated : March 9, 2024, 14:45
Courtesy of the Korea Aerospace IndustriesFA-50 developed by the Korea Aerospace Industries [Courtesy of KAI]
SEOUL -- The Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), a major defense company in South Korea specializing in aerial vehicle research and development, is set to accelerate the development and commercialization of autonomous aerial vehicles and the single-seater variant of the FA-50 supersonic light fighter jet.

In a board meeting held on March 8, KAI announced its plan to inject a total of 90.8 billion won ($69.7 million) into the development of AAVs and the enhancement of FA-50 fighter jets. Of this amount, 55.3 billion won will be allocated to the initial phase of AAV development, which includes the creation of prototype models and the implementation of distributed electrical propulsion systems.

The demand for Autonomous aerial vehicles (AAVs), both domestically and globally, has been steadily increasing, especially after the effectiveness of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) was demonstrated in conflict zones such as Ukraine and the Middle East. KAI aims to commercialize military and civilian AAVs for both domestic and international markets by 2030, with a target of selling 23,000 units by 2050.
Low-observable Kaori-X UAB being developed by the ADD Courtesy of ADD
Low-observable Kaori-X UAB being developed by the ADD [Courtesy of ADD]

In January 2024, South Korea's defense ministry deployed stealth UCAVs along the East Coast, showcasing their versatility as compact-sized attack aircraft and reconnaissance platforms. These manta ray-shaped drones are small enough to be transported by pickup trucks.

Additionally, KAI will allocate approximately 35.5 billion won for the development of the single-seater FA-50 model, targeting the global market for multi-role fighter jets. The FA-50, derived from South Korea's first double-seater supersonic trainer, TA-50, was developed by KAI in collaboration with American partner Lockheed Martin.

Due to its similarities in flight characteristics, controls, and size to the renowned F-16 fighter jets produced by the United States General Dynamics, minimal training is required for F-16 pilots to transition to the FA-50. With a total of 138 double-seater FA-50 jets exported as of February 2024, there is a growing global demand for the single-seater version of this South Korean fighter jet.

While predicting that the global demand for single-seater multi-role fighter jets to be at about 450 units, KAI said the company plans to sell more than 300 units to achieve more than 50 percent market share. 
기사 이미지 확대 보기