South Korea and Spain are expected to launch negotiations as early as this month on a proposed deal to swap military transport planes of the European nation with Korean trainer jets, defense officials said Sunday.
The deal, if realized, would mark South Korea's first export of aircraft to Europe.
According to government and military officials, South Korea has been reviewing Spain's proposal to trade some of its A-400M transport planes made by Airbus for KT-1 and T-50 trainer jets produced by Korea Aerospace Industries.
Spain first broached the idea at the Farnborough International Airshow in Britain in July last year and officially proposed it when the two countries held a meeting in November of their joint defense industry cooperation committee.
Spain has reportedly ordered 27 A-400Ms from Airbus but has decided to sell 13 of them and received consent from Airbus. The country is reportedly hoping to deliver four to six A-400Ms to Korea in return for 30 KT-1s and 20 T-50s.
South Korea plans to send a team of officials to Spain for negotiations, officials said.
"The Defense Acquisition Program Administration has put together our government's position and negotiating strategies and reported them to the defense ministry," a government official said on customary condition of anonymity.
"A working-level negotiating team, consisting mainly of DAPA officials and also including some defense ministry officials, will be dispatched to Spain as early as this month," the official said.
South Korea has a fleet of C-130 Hercules cargo planes, each of which can fly more than 5,200 kilometers with a maximum load of 74,393 kilograms. The A-400M can accommodate 141,000 kg with a range of roughly 8,700 km.
South Korea's Air Force said it's in need of larger airlifters for more efficient disaster relief and peacekeeping operations.