South Korean UAS Deals To Hinge On Israeli Trainer Choice

The future of some potential deals to purchase Israeli-made aerial
systems by the South Korean defence ministry will depend on whether the
Israeli air force selects the Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin
T-50 as its new advanced jet trainer.

South Korea’s military has been evaluating several Israeli systems in
recent months, including unmanned air systems. Its evaluations are being
made with the assistance of Sibat, the Israeli defence ministry
division in charge of securing defence exports.

Seoul is focusing its interest in the Israel Aerospace Industries Heron
(below) and Elbit Systems Hermes 450 UAS. Its shopping list also
includes other systems, but the Israeli companies involved have refused
to release more details.

Sources related to the competition said on 29 March that while it is not
officially stated, the “key people” in Israel are aware of the
connection between the selection and the extent of the possible South
Korean purchases of equipment from Israel.

South Korea has previously bought Israeli systems such as IAI’s Harpy
attack drone and the company’s Green Pine long-range missile launch
detection radar. However, its potential new shopping list has become
longer “and more diversified”, according to one source.

Meanwhile, a proposed joint venture between Elbit and IAI that would
purchase the Israeli air force’s favoured trainer design and then sell
flight hours to the service at its flight academy should be formally
established in the coming days.