South Korea's defense authorities announced on Monday their selection of Brazil's Embraer C-390 for the Air Force's latest large transport aircraft.
Lockheed Martin and Airbus were among the contenders passed over for the 710 billion won ($544.4 million) acquisition project slated to extend until 2026, as revealed by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
The Defense Project Promotion Committee, overseeing the selection process, did not disclose the specific number of aircraft set to be acquired under the project. However, it is anticipated that South Korea will procure three units.
Presently, the South Korean Air Force operates Lockheed Martin C-130J as its primary large military transport aircraft.
South Korea's reliance on military transport aircraft for global airlift operations has increased, demonstrated by its involvement in evacuating nationals during international conflicts. Notably, in October, South Korea utilized its transport aircraft to evacuate 163 South Koreans and 57 other nationals from Israel following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.
In a separate move, the committee officially chose Lockheed Martin's F-35 for the country's additional next-generation fighter jet acquisition project. The 4.26 trillion-won initiative, scheduled until 2028, aims to procure 20 more F-35s, reinforcing South Korea's deterrence capabilities against evolving North Korean military threats. The country currently operates a fleet of 40 F-35s, with one retired recently due to damage caused by a bird strike in January of the previous year.
Last week, the Pentagon approved the sale of lethal weapons worth $271 million for Korean F-35 jets.
Furthermore, the Defense Project Promotion Committee greenlit a production plan for a domestically produced Light Armed Helicopter valued at approximately 5.7 trillion won, set to continue through 2031. The helicopter production, the second of its kind, aims to replace the Army's aging 500MD and AH-1S helicopters.
Additionally, the committee endorsed the fourth production plan for the K21 infantry fighting vehicle, worth around 780 billion won and scheduled until 2028.