Sacheon, South Korea: Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) unveiled yesterday the improved version of its T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer, the model that KAI and Lockheed Martin are proposing as the successor of the US Air Force’ T-38 trainer, also known as T-X program. The T-X program, due for selection by late 2017 is expected to be one of the largest trainer acquisition worldwide. The US Air Force plans to acquire 350 advanced trainers, to replace the +50 year old T-38 Talon in service. [ismember]
Four companies are competing on this opportunity – Lockheed Martin with KAI are offering the K-50 T-X, Northrop Grumman plans to submit a new aircraft; Boeing teamed with Saab will also offer a newly designed aircraft and Alenia Aermacchi plans to offer its M-346.[/ismember]
Designed for the training of pilots for 5th Generation fighter aircraft, KAI’s T-X is equipped with modern cockpit comprising large area display (LAD), embedded avionics and training systems, as well as aerial refueling capability. The aircraft is configured with large dorsal ‘hump’ providing ample cooled space for additional avionic systems and antennae.
[ismember]The FA-50 fighters, a light attack variant of the T-50, are currently in service with the South Korean Air Force. Last month, KAI made the first delivery of the two FA-50PHs, multi-mission jets, to the Philippines as part of a US$420 million program that will deliver 12 such aircraft to the Philippines. KAI has so far received orders from Indonesia, Iraq and Thailand for T-50 series jets. The company said it is also negotiating procurements of T-50s with Peru and Botswana.
The new variant is currently designated as a flight demonstrator, due to begin flight-testing in Korea next year, to be followed by flight demonstrations in the USA by 2017. The original T-50, along with its variants, was developed via technology transfer from Lockheed Martin with offsets related to South Korea’s large F-16 fleet.