THE US GOVERNMENT is expected shortly to forward a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to South Korea, covering the proposed joint development of the Samsung KTX-II advanced trainer/light-combat aircraft.

It is understood that the Pentagon's Defence Security Assistance Agency has finished drafting the MoU. It is planned to present the document to the South Korean Government for review before the end of September.

Signature of the MoU will clear the way for Lockheed Martin to finalise a collaborative agreement with Samsung Aerospace.

The two companies recently concluded a provisional teaming arrangement and are hoping to begin full-scale development of the tandem-seat supersonic KTX-II in January 1997 (Flight International, 21-27 August, P5).

It had originally been planned to start development of the KTX-II earlier this year, but teaming disagreements and escalation in costs pushed back launch by 12 months. An interim bridging agreement with Lockheed Martin, designed to keep preliminary design work going, expires in December.

The South Korean Government is withholding a final decision on launching the KTX-II programme until the MoU is agreed. Seoul is seeking reassurances from Washington on the transfer of technology and the export of KTX-II aircraft to third countries.

The USA is unlikely to give South Korean industry full access to key technology areas, such as flight-control software, but it will look favourably at the export of aircraft to certain prescribed countries, suggests an industry source.

The South Korean ministry of national defence is understood tentatively to have approved a follow-on purchase of 13 Westland Super Lynx naval helicopters.

South Korea's navy has opted for a second batch of Super Lynx, after considering competing proposals from Sikorsky and Kaman of the S-70B Seahawk and re-manufactured SH-2G Super SeaSprite, respectively.

Source: Flight International