Korea and Spain are in talks to hold a joint committee meeting for a possible swap deal involving trainer jets and cargo planes this month, local media reported, Sunday.
According to government sources, Sunday, officials are on track to hold a planned joint military defense committee meeting between the defense forces of Korea and Spain in Madrid in the middle of this month.
The sources said the agenda is not finalized but there is a possibility it will be decided sooner and its schedule finalized by this week.
Military and defense industry officials say the subject will likely be a swap deal for Korea's trainer and cargo aircraft.
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the nation's largest private defense company, is competing with a Swiss company to win a deal to supply trainer jets to Spain's air forces. The Korean Air Force, meanwhile, is known to be considering Spain's Airbus A400M or the U.S.'s Boeing C-17 as its future cargo plane.
Spain hopes to sell four to six Airbus A400M planes to Korea while buying about 30 KT-1 basic trainer jets and 20 T-50 advanced trainer planes from Korea in exchange.
The deal, worth 2 trillion won ($1.78 billion), includes trainer planes, additional military munitions and ground equipment.
If it materializes, it will be the first time that Korea has exported local jets to a European country, as well as a breakthrough for KAI, which failed recently to win a big deal with the U.S. Air Force.
A consortium of Lockheed Martin and KAI lost a bid for a jet contract from the U.S. Air Force due to a failure to compete with the low-price strategy from its rival Boeing.
The U.S. aerial warfare unit said it awarded the $9.2 billion (10.2 trillion won) Advanced Pilot Training (APT) contract to a consortium led by Boeing and Saab. The Lockheed-KAI consortium submitted its final proposal with the T-50A trainer jet worth $19.7 billion.
The sources said Spain is willing to offer a 15 percent discount on the price of the A400M, which costs about 300 billion won for one plane.
In January, Spain's defense minister visited Korea and had discussions with then Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo, agreeing on bilateral cooperation by holding regular committee meetings. Song urged the Spanish government to buy KAI's KT-1 trainer jets.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Contrary to what is reported above, South Korea is not considering the C-17 because its production line has been shut down, and the US Air Force is jealously guarding its own C-17s.
Spain, which has ordered 27 A400Ms but only needs 14, is looking to re-sell 13 of them, and so would probably offer Korea a favorable price.)