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 Seoul air show 2005

Korea Aerospace & Defence Exhibition 2005

South Korea 


Aerospace & Defence Exhibition ?,

The fifth “Korea Aerospace and Defence Exhibition 2005”, also known as the Seoul Air Show, was held at Seoul Airport from October 18th to 23rd. Ever since the first show in 1996, it has been the aim of the joint Korean defence industry, supported by the military forces, to set up a renowned regional defence exhibit. After the lacklustre – and probably one-off - event in the Busan exhibition centre in 2003, the show returned to the grounds of Seongnam City near Seoul.

With the planned participation of 200 companies of the aerospace and defence industries from more than 20 countries around the world, this years event was expected to be well on the way of achieving this mark. The program consisted of an air show, display and exhibition and a three day professional seminar. Lacking a specific Korea Defence Forces requirement, many international companies chose to stay away or minimalise their efforts. This was a well noted difference with the 2001 show when Russian, US and French companies tried their best to sell their fighter as the ROKAF Next Generation Fighter (FX), lining up their state of the art fighters in Seoul at the time.

Upon entering the showground, we found the winner of the FX-competition, two factory fresh F-15K´s neighbouring the aircraft it is replacing, the F-4 Phantom, a technology gap spanning thirty odd years. Talking to Boeing officials accompanying the planes it turned out that the two aircraft were technically still owned by the Boeing Company. They would only be transferred to the ROK Air Force at the last day of the show, thus explaining the absence of an F-15K in the flying program. 

The aircraft on display were production numbers three and four, the first two examples remain in the U.S.A. for further testing and system integration. Some of the highlights of the F-15K program include full stand-off air-to-ground weaponry and the unique capability (for an F-15) to use the AGM-84 Harpoon in the air-to-surface mode. Other changes from the F-15E include an updated AN/APG-63(V) radar and an advanced avionics suite.  

A total of 40 F-15K will be delivered until 2008, with two further deliveries this year. Next year the first squadron will convert to the F-15K. This will be the 122 “Jaguar” Squadron, currently equipped with the F-5 and based at Gwangju in south-western Korea. 
Future plans for the ROKAF include introduction of the T-50 supersonic trainer, replacing F-5F´s and leased T-38´s as high-speed trainer. Missing in the static display was the T-50 Golden Eagle, with only a factory model taking part in the flight display. A full-size mock-up was presented in the pavilion area. Although this aircraft has a fair amount of equipment installed it has never flown and only served as a jig for fitting equipment and systems.









With aerial reconnaissance being one of the topics of the seminar and a new aerial sensor platform on the ROK AF wish list, it was no surprise to see Boeing highlighting their efforts in this area by bringing in an Australian Wedge tail. In this case the second example of this interesting B-737 variant was on show with a civil registration taped over its Australian numberplate (A30-02).
The remainder of the static was filled with local aircraft and defence industry equipment including ROK Air Force KF-16, F-4E and KT-1 and air force and army helicopters. Also on display was a newcomer to Korean skies in the form of the Bo-105 helicopter. An order for 12 light helicopters for the Korean Army Aviation was placed with EADS a few years ago with all of these now in service.

 Although the further downsizing of American forces in South Korea was announced in the week of the show, there are still more than 30.000 US Army soldiers stationed and a sizeable PACAF presence. To honour the good relation with the USA, the Korean organisers reserved one side of the static display for American aircraft, represented by locally based F-16C, A-10A and P-3. US Army also brought their local inventory along and the USAF showed the B-1B, both on the ground and in the air. The two Ellsworth (TX) B-1B´s de-toured from their Diego Garcia temporary deployment base.
During the Public days, the Black Eagle Team of ROK Air Force performed. On the trading days the flying program consisted of a display from the factory T-50 and ROKAF KF-16 and KT-1. An Alaska-based USAF F-15C showed what the Eagle can do in the air and an overflying U-2 was followed by a B-1B display. All of this was brought in the space of half an hour, proving that the size and importance of the flying program needs beefing up before the Seoul Air Show starts to attract serious visitor numbers from the region. A fantastic performance was put in by one of two private Su-31 aerobatic aircraft attending and waterbombing with helicopters during the public weekend turned out to be a real show-stopper.for attending families.

 In comparing previous shows at Seoul, the amount of attendees was down. In previous editions, most of the types flown by the ROK Air Force were present, but some types were absent this year. With the ROK Air Force not in search of a new type, no foreign contenders were present. The main part of the trade fare was about the new F-15K and possible RFP for a sensor aircraft, with a secondary goal of marketing of the KT-1 and the T-50.
Concluding, it was a show that was nice for the first time visitor to South Korea, but compared to previous shows and other shows in the region (eg. LIMA, Singapore) the amount of air planes, also from neighbouring countries, was very limited and the air show element in need of an upgrade.The show being well organised, locally supported and marketed in magazines and at airshows world-wide, it looks like everything is in place to expand on the platform. The next edition of the Seoul Air Show will be in 2007.


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