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Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Korea-based Hankuk Carbon signed an agreement establishing a new joint venture company, Korea Aviation Technologies (KAT), to be based in South Korea.

The signing ceremony was held on day one of Seoul ADEX, being held from 17-22 Oct. 

KAT will ‘focus on development and manufacturing of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability that will target the military and civilian Korean market,’ said a KAT spokesman at the signing ceremony.

The joint company follows the memorandum of agreement entered by the companies in January 2016 and then the joint demonstration of the FE Panther UAV in December 2016. 

KAT is expected to develop and manufacture the ‘next generation’ of VTOL UAVs. The goal is to develop VTOL UAVs with a maximum take-off weight of 300-450kg. Composite materials are the main field of Hankuk’s expertise and this will allow KAT to produce fourth-generation UAVs for both commercial and military applications.

The Hankuk Carbon booth featured a 1:3 scale model of the new Panther 300 (KAT 400) VTOL UAV (pictured above) using a hybrid propulsion system (HPS), which is a ‘game changer’ in the conventional UAV industry, the spokesperson said. The Panther 300 can carry a 60kg payload.

The system compensates for ‘higher power density’ by using both an electric motor that allows for weight reduction and an internal combustion engine that allows for extended endurance.

However, the HPS will be fitted on the FE-Panther first, this to occur ‘soon’. Engineers are currently optimising this platform that can lift an 8.5kg payload.

Also on display was the KAT 100 UAV, described as a 2.0 version of the FE-Panther. It can carry a 10kg payload and it has stabilised controls and improved endurance and performance. It is currently undergoing fight testing in Israel, with further flight tests to occur in South Korea after that.