Korea’s T-50 Family of Trainers/Fighters
November 15/16: The first US flight of the T-50A advanced jet trainer will take place on November 17 at Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Pilot Training facility in Greenville, South Carolina. Developed jointly by LM and Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI), the trainer is an upgraded version of the T-50 Golden Eagle and is being offered to the USAF’s T-X trainer competition. It was expected that RoKAF Chief of Staff Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo and Vice Defense Minister Hwang In-moo would witness the flight, but due to the recent political turmoil at home, will not make the trip. South Korean President Park Geun-hye is under increased pressure to resign following allegations that she let her friend Choi Soon-sil, a shamanist cult leader, have extensive access and influence over government policy and decision making.
South Korea’s T-50 Golden Eagle family offers the global marketplace a set of high-end supersonic trainer and lightweight fighter aircraft. They’re hitting the international market at a good time: just as many of the world’s jet training fleets are reaching ages of 30 years or more, and high-end fighters are pricing themselves out of reach for many countries.
Most recently, Thailand is increasing its defense budget and the speed of its procurement process to, among other things, procure a replacement for its aging L-39. The T-50 is one of three candidates.
The ROK’s defense industry is advancing on all fronts these days. Its shipbuilding industry, one of the world’s busiest, is beginning to turn out its own LHDs, and even high-end KDX-III AEGIS destroyers. On the armored vehicle front, Korea’s XK2 tank and K9/K10 self propelled howitzer are beginning to win export orders, and its XK-21/KNIFV amphibious infantry fighting vehicle may not be too far behind. All fill key market niches, promising performance at a comparatively inexpensive price. Now its aerospace industry is in flight abroad with the KT-1 turboprop basic trainer, complemented by the T-50 jet trainer, TA-50 LIFT advanced trainer & attack variant, and FA-50 lightweight fighter.
The TA-50 and FA-50 are especially attractive as lightweight export fighters, and the ROKAF’s own F-5E/F Tiger II and F-4 Phantom fighters are more than due for replacement. The key question for the platform is whether it can find corresponding export sales.
T/F/A-50: The Planes
T/F/A-50: The Program
Contracts & Key Events
2015 – 2017
2006 – 2007
2005 and Earlier
The T-50 Family
Competitors & Market
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