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South Korea Awards KAI $747 Million Spy Plane Contract

The South Korean government has awarded Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) an 877.5 billion South Korean won ($747 million) contract to develop new reconnaissance aircraft for the air force.

The Sacheon-based aerospace company will convert four Dassault-made Falcon 2000LXS midsize business jets into Baekdu-class reconnaissance planes over five years, Seoul-based Aju Business Daily wrote. The French business jet’s short landing distance requirement allows it to access more airports and landing strips than many others.

An unnamed KAI official said that the “performance improvement project of the Baekdu system is a core project for the development of the domestic aerospace industry, such as strengthening the military’s power as well as accumulating technology and creating jobs.” 

System Development Project

Under the second phase of the project, KAI will lead the system integration work and develop the aircraft ground system. Meanwhile, Korean defense firm LIG Nex1 will develop its mission equipment, the outlet added. The project’s first phase was undertaken by the National Defense Science Research Institute from 2011-2018.

The East Asian country currently relies on US-made E-737 airborne early warning and control aircraft, RQ-4 Global Hawks, and six indigenous Baekdu planes, inducted in the 90s for reconnaissance. According to Aju Business Daily, South Korea’s decision to develop a fleet of upgraded homegrown Baekdu planes is an attempt to reduce the US dependence on its reconnaissance requirements. 

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