South Korea highlights indigenous advances at ADEX 2021

The KAI T-50 and its derived FA-50 fighter illustrate the level of development of the ROK defence industry in establishing a domestic design and manufacturing capability. The aircraft is not only in use by Korea but has been adopted by four other countries. (KAI)

Despite a visibly reduced international visitor footprint due to prevalent travel restrictions, South Korea has forged ahead with staging the 2021 edition of the biennial Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition – also known as ADEX – at Seoul Air Base from 19 to 23 October.

As befitting the country’s premier aerospace and defence showcase, a wide variety of indigenous developments are expected to take centre-stage across the exhibition halls. According to the organiser, 440 companies from 28 countries are exhibiting – representing the largest number of participating firms since the exhibition was launched in 1996.

Among the highlights of the event are locally developed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) such as LIG Nex1’s KD-200 heavy lift concept, which will adopt a hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system and will be designed to transport operationally relevant loads of up to 200 kg.

The company also unveiled a new powered cruise-missile development, Chun Ryong (Sky Dragon), that is being undertaken with the government-owned Agency for Defense Development.

Although the much-anticipated KF-21 Boramae future multirole fighter is only being shown as a scale model, manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is highlighting a range of new unmanned aircraft concepts such as an unmanned Light Armed Helicopter (LAH), FA-50 light attack aircraft-based loyal wingman aircraft, as well as potential manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) capabilities for its Surion Marine Attack Helicopter (MAH).

The company is also pushing a new electrically powered basic training aircraft design, called Black Kite, for a potential Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) requirement.

It was announced on 20 October that KAI and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a joint study of a new loitering munition capability that aims to maximize the South Korean military’s ability to suppress and destroy an adversary’s air defences.

Meanwhile, Hyundai Rotem unveiled a version of its K2 main battle tank (MBT) aimed at Norway’s Leopard 2A4 MBT replacement programme. Called the K2NO, the new variant features Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Trophy active protection system and Kongsberg RS4 remote weapon station. The K2NO will compete against the Leopard 2A7.

With local defence industry striving to deliver world-class products, the government’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) is seeking to position the country as a top exporter by mid-2020.

by Jr Ng