The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Tawazun Council and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the joint development of the next generation of multi-mission cargo aircraft. The MoU between Korea Aerospace Industries and Tawazun will reportedly commit the UAE to invest $3.2 billion in the development of the company’s MC-X project, which was announced in 2021 as the local solution to meet local requirements. The agreement was signed by Tareq Al Hosani, Secretary-General of Tawazun Council, and Kang Gu-young, representative of the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), and is one of several agreements, valued at $30 billion, signed during the visit to the UAE of South Korean President President Yoon Suk Yeol.
The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) is currently looking to replace its cargo aircraft fleet, and the MC-X is an intermediate-size aircraft that could fit the bill. The service currently operates 12 Lockheed Martin C-130H/C-130H-30 and four C-130J-30 turboprop tactical transport aircraft, four Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) which can undertake both air-to-air refuelling and personnel/cargo delivery missions, and around 20 CN-235-100/220 aircraft configured for transport missions. However, the lack of successors to the C-130J and the Boeing C-17 leaves the A400M as the only modern transport aircraft on the market, but its size makes it too large and too expensive for many transport missions.
The official noted that Korea Aerospace Industries’s objective is to develop a next-generation multirole transport aircraft that is positioned in terms of size and capabilities between the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules and Airbus A400M Atlas platforms. While the company is initially planning to develop and manufacture the aircraft as an in-house project, it is possible that a foreign industry partner could be sought depending on subsequent technical assessments. The MC-X could also be potentially offered to the export market, which would pit it against the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) Kawasaki C-2 “Blue Whale” and the Brazilian Air Force Embraer C-390 “Millennium” military transport aircrafts.
Korea Aerospace Industries unveiled a model of a proposed new turbofan-powered multirole transport aircraft called the Multi-mission Cargo eXperimental (MC-X) Orca project at the DX Korea 2022 Military Exhibition. According to company specifications, the MC-X is expected to be a twin-engine aircraft – some 40.3 m long, 13.5 m tall, and 41.1 m in span – with a maximum take-off weight would be 92,000 kg with a payload capacity of up to 30,000 kg. It will be equipped with 30,000 lb-class turbofan engines that are expected to offer a maximum speed of 926 km/h and cruising range of 7,000 km. Other planned features include an aircraft self-defence system and an automated loading system.