South Korea Won’t Send Aerobatics Team to China ‘s Zhuhai Air Show

South
Korea
dropped a plan to send an aerobatics team to an air show (Zhuhai Air Show) in China
less than two weeks before the event, after Washington raised concerns
about exposing key U.S. fighter-jet technology.

The South Korean air force’s Black Eagles team, which consists of
eight T-50 light combat aircraft, was scheduled to be a main attraction
at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, the
country’s main aviation trade show, in the southern coastal city of
Zhuhai.

The event runs from Nov. 11 to Nov. 16. The organizers of the show
and China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency had confirmed the Black Eagles’
attendance.

But on Thursday, the defense ministry in Seoul decided not to let
the team attend, following objections raised during talks with the U.S.
No official announcement was made but a defense ministry official
confirmed the decision on Monday.

 

South Korea's Black Eagles
South Korea’s Black Eagles

“The decision was agreed between the U.S. and South Korea because
the T-50 jets include core U.S. technologies and so are subject to
regulations regarding arms export and international arms trade,” said a
South Korean Defense Ministry official who asked not to be named. The
official declined to specify when the U.S.-South Korean talks were held.

A spokesman for U.S. Forces Korea said he had no immediate comment
on the move, while media coordinators in Zhuhai for the air show said
they didn’t know about the change.

A project funded by the South Korean government, the supersonic
fighter T-50 jet is assembled by Korea Aerospace Industries, a local
military aircraft and civilian airframe parts maker. It uses wings, in
addition to flight control and avionics equipment, made by Lockheed
Martin Corp.

 Since early this year, Beijing and Seoul have publicly acknowledged
discussing the Black Eagles’ participation in the biannual air show,
which in recent years has featured performances from Russian and
Pakistani teams.

As scheduled, a South Korean air force vice chief of staff will
attend the show, which will have a promotional booth for the Black
Eagles.

“South Korea is mindful of the importance of the South Korea-China
military ties and we put our efforts to improving them,” the South
Korean ministry official said.