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Company Background

Korea Aerospace Industries is South Korea's sole aircraft maker. It was founded in 1999 under the leadership of the South Korean government, with three conglomerates -- Samsung, Hyundai and Daewoo -- contributing their aerospace expertise. Its leading shareholder is Korea Development Bank, an institution wholly owned by the government.

Korea Aerospace's mainline product is the T-20 supersonic training aircraft, developed jointly with Lockheed Martin, a U.S. defense contractor. Mass production of the jet, which also doubles as a light attack aircraft, began in 2006. In addition to being supplied to the South Korean air force, the T-20 has also been shipped to Indonesia and Iraq.

Korea Aerospace also has a working relationship with Europe's Airbus Group. With the help of Airbus, the company in 2012 began selling the first South Korean-built helicopters.

In 2015, the company was awarded a contract to build the KF-X fighter, to be developed jointly with Indonesia, which is an investor in the 18 trillion won ($15.7 billion) project. Plans call for building 120 of the planes between 2025 and 2032. Korea Aerospace will have to pay a penalty if it falls behind schedule.

Opposition from Washington meant the company was unable to obtain the radar technology it wanted from Lockheed Martin, so it is developing the technology in-house. Some observers say that could impact the development schedule.

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