T-50 Golden Eagle trainer jet 311 (R).
(photo credit: Tim Chong/Reuters)
Israeli defense companies stand to gain from billions of dollars in contracts
with South Korea which recently increased its defense budget to $30 billion a
year, Korea’s ambassador to Israel Ilsoo Kim said on Thursday.
RELATED:Defense Ministry in final talks with S. Korea over jet contract Israel could gain from Korean bid for IAF contract
to The Jerusalem Post as the South Korean government was putting the final
touches on an industrial cooperation package it is offering Israel in a bid to
get the Defense Ministry to select Korean Aerospace Industries’ (KAI’s) T-50
Golden Eagle as its next advanced fighter trainer.
The Defense Ministry
has given the Koreans until the end of the month to submit their final proposal
which is expected to reach over $1.5 billion in industrial cooperation for
Israeli defense contractors.
The proposals are expected to arrive in Tel
Aviv by the beginning of next week.
Competing against the T-50 is Italy’s
Alenia Aermacchi M- 346 Master, which earlier this week received the Israel Air
Force’s recommendation. The competition has received a great deal of media
attention due to claims by KAI that Italy has received preferred treatment
throughout the tender.
Kim said that Korea had high expectations to win
the tender and “if they are not met, there will be natural
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The deal is for about 30 aircraft – valued at just over
$1 billion – which the IAF plans to use to replace its aging fleet of A-4
Skyhawks, which are currently used to train cadets in their advanced pilot
“Korea is spending $30 billion a year in defense and we have to
upgrade our capabilities considering the changes around us,” Kim said in a hint
to Israel regarding the size of deals it can potentially gain from if the T-50
is selected by the Defense Ministry.
Korea has found support among
leading Israeli defense companies which are lobbying the Defense Ministry to
select the T-50 due to the potential contracts they stand to win in return from
The Korean military is interested, for example, in purchasing the
Iron Dome counter-rocket defense system, in upgrades for its combat aircraft, in
new drones, anti-tank missiles and in new command-and-control
Defense Ministry officials said Thursday that despite the IAF
recommendation to purchase the Italian plane, the deal was far from over. The
officials said that ministry’s procurement department was scheduled to submit
its recommendation to Dir.-Gen.
Udi Shani in early February and that a
final decision would be made shortly after.
“Negotiations are still
ongoing with the sides,” a senior defense official said. “The Defense Ministry
is working to obtain the greatest deal for Israel and the decision will be based
on a variety of variables.”
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