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UAE’s Tawazun Council Joins Korea Aerospace Industries to Develop MC-X Multirole Transport Aircraft

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UAE’s Tawazun Council Joins Korea Aerospace Industries to Develop MC-X Multirole Transport Aircraft

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Korea Aerospace Industries MC-X Transport Aircraft
Korea Aerospace Industries MC-X Transport Aircraft

The priority of South Korean defense company Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) in the Middle East is to advance the project to co-develop multirole transport aircraft with the United Arab Emirates at the region’s largest international defense exhibition in UAE capital Abu Dhabi. The Korea Herald reported that the KAI’s top priority in the Middle East would be to expeditiously kick off the project, elucidating that both sides have made efforts to further develop and flesh out the memorandum by taking the KAI’s participation in the four-day International Defense Exhibition & Conference as an opportunity. The KAI also eyes opportunities to export attack helicopters and fighter jets to the Middle East.

The KAI and Tawazun Council responsible for UAE defense acquisitions in January signed a memorandum of understanding as part of mid- to long-term cooperation between South Korea and the UAE in the defense industry in January on the occasion of President Yoon Suk Yeol making the first state visit by a South Korean leader to the country. Both sides have shared the view on pushing forward the project. But both companies have not reached the stage of discussing when, how, and where to launch the project as well as the scale of the project and budget. The UAE has been making very high demands. We expect to take around 12 years to complete the development: two-year exploratory development, two-year administrative procedure and eight-year system development.

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South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup (front right) is briefed by CEO Kang Goo-young of Korea Aerospace Industries (center) at the KAI booth at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, Monday.
South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup (front right) is briefed by CEO Kang Goo-young of Korea Aerospace Industries (center) at the KAI booth at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, Monday. (Photo by KAI)

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.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.

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 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. 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.

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