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SOURCE: New Straits Times

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has expressed interest in South Korea’s indigenous fighter jet programme. He made his intent known during a visit to the Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd (KAI), here, today, and said he was eager to look at the advancement of the local aircraft industry.

Dr Mahathir spent more than an hour at the KAI facility, located some two-hour drive from Busan. Dr Mahathir, who is in South Korea to attend Asean-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit in Busan, arrived at the KAI facility by helicopter. He was met on arrival by the South Korean Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) Minister, Wang Jung-Hong and KAI chief executive officer, Ahn Hyun-Ho.

The prime minister was accompanied by Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Ignatius Darell Leiking.

Korea Aerospace Industries, commonly referred to as KAI, is a South Korean aerospace and defence company.

During his visit to the facility, the prime minister was especially fascinated with the KAI made FA-50 light combat aircraft.

The KAI FA-50 is the combat variant of the T-50, South Korea’s first indigenous supersonic aircraft and one of the world’s few supersonic trainers.

KAI is also developing a 4.5 generation half stealth fighter jet KAI KF-X, a joint South Korean and Indonesian effort. The programme is spearheaded by South Korea, which holds 80 per cent of the shares. Indonesia joined in 2010 and has the remaining 20 per cent shares in the project.

Dr Mahathir during his visit also remarked that South Korea had advanced greatly since he last visited the country in 2002.