DX Korea 2022: KAI unveils MC-X transport aircraft concept

KAI MC-X multirole cargo transport concept model
KAI MC-X multirole cargo transport concept model.

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has taken the opportunity at the DX Korea 2022 exhibition being held in Goyang from 21-25 September to reveal a model of its proposed new turbofan-powered multirole transport aircraft tentatively named MC-X.

While it is currently an unsolicited proposal, a KAI official told AMR that the company is in discussion with the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) to understand expected its future transport requirements. 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.

“We believe that the MC-X will be able to enter production by the early 2030s using our current development capabilities,” said official, adding that the RoK army and navy could also be potential customers with specialised capabilities such as special forces and maritime patrol for their respective operational requirements.

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.

The official noted that KAI’s objective is to develop a next-generation multirole transport aircraft that is positioned in terms of size and capabilities between the C-130 and A400M platforms. He added that 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.

While he did not provide further details on international partnerships, AMR understands that Boeing and Embraer could be potential candidates given their experience in developing successful turbofan-powered military transport aircraft.

The MC-X could also be potentially offered to the export market, which would pit it against the C-2 ‘Blue Whale’, a mid-size, twin-turbofan powered military transport aircraft developed by Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) and already in service with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).

by Jr Ng