Dennis A. Muilenburg, chairman of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co., met with high-ranking officials during his one-day visit to South Korea at a time when the Korean military is seeking to expand its defense assets.
According to the aviation industry on Tuesday, the chairman of Boeing visited Seoul and invited some high-rank political and business figures to a private banquet held at the U.S. embassy in Seoul on Tuesday. Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and current United States Forces Korea Commander Vincent Keith Brooks were said to be among attendees at the banquet, according to sources.
Muilenburg’s latest one-day trip to Korea came at a time when Boeing is seeking to win a bid for possible contracts from the Korean military that is said to be seeking to acquire additional units of Apache, Boeing’s helicopter, and anti-submarine aircrafts, according to an official at the banquet who asked to be unnamed due to the sensitivity of the issue.
The American defense contractor is currently competing against Sabb, Swedish defense company, in a bid for Korea’s 1.9 trillion won ($1.8 billion) purchase deal for anti-submarine aircrafts. Boeing is pitching its Poseidon anti-submarine system against Sabb’s Swordfish.
Boeing and Korea have built solid partnership in both commercial airplane and defense markets. It has supplied the Korean armed forces with a fleet of 36 units of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, 60 units of F-15K fighter jets and others. Korean airlines have also purchased many aircrafts manufactured by Boeing.
Boeing is also known to be hoping to supply 787-8 and 787-9 aircrafts to Korean low-cost carriers that are aggressively expanding long-haul routes. Local budget carriers are already royal customers of Boeing’s short-haul aircrafts such as 737-800.
A day after its chief’s visit to Seoul, Boeing announced that it is in talks with the Korean government to open its new research center in Korea. The new center will focus on autonomy, artificial intelligence, avionics, analytics, smart cabin and smart factory technologies that will speed up the development of next-generation aircrafts.
Boeing established Boeing Korea in 1988 and currently hires more than 200 staff for its Korean operation.
By Moon Ji-woong and Lee Ha-yeon
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