MELBOURNE, Australia — South Korea and the United Arab Emirates have signed two memorandums of understanding to improve bilateral defense ties, during a visit by the South Korean president to the Gulf kingdom.

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration and the UAE’s Tawazun Council inked the agreements Jan. 15 in the presence of President Yoon Suk Yeol and his Emirati counterpart Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The Tawazun Council serves as the acquisition authority for the Emirati military and the Abu Dhabi Police.

The first memorandum called for both countries to continue efforts in joint investment, research and technological development to further develop bilateral cooperation in the arms industry, according to a DAPA news release.

The second memorandum would see the UAE join a South Korean development program for the next generation of multimission cargo aircraft. Specific signatories included Tareq Al Hosani, secretary general of the Tawazun Council, and Kang Goo-young, CEO of Korea Aerospace Industries.

KAI unveiled the concept aircraft, known as MC-X, last year. The company aims to develop a next-generation multirole transport aircraft that is positioned to bridge the size and capability gap between the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules and the Airbus A400M.

KAI expects the MC-X to have a maximum takeoff weight of 92 tons and an internal cargo capacity of 30 ton. Preliminary specifications released by the company during the DX Korea exhibition in 2022 show the platform will likely be a twin-engine aircraft with a range of about 4,350 miles, measuring 131 feet long, 44.3 feet tall and 135 feet in wingspan.

South Korea’s growing defense industry has previously had success in the UAE, having secured the sale of Cheongung II KM-SAM medium-range surface-to-air missile system to the country in early 2022.

That contract, worth $3.5 billion, will also see LIG Nex1 perform system integration, Hanwha Systems provide a multifunctional radar, and Hanwha Defense develop the missile’s vertical launcher as well as its ammunition resupply vehicles.

Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.

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