17 Mei 2010
RoKAF's T-50 Golden Eagle (photo : buffalo79)
T-50 Trainer Jets in Full Service
The Air Force said Thursday that it has received the 50th and last of the advanced T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer jets from the aircraft's manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI).
The delivery of the T-50 trainer jets jointly built by Lockheed Martin of the United States began in December 2005. KAI is the prime contractor, and Lockheed Martin is the principal subcontractor, assisting with development and international marketing.
The Air Force placed an order for 82 T-50 variants, including 50 advanced jet trainers, 22 TA-50 light armed aircraft and 10 other T-50Bs modified for aerobatic performances.
``I sincerely congratulate you on being fully operational with the world's best T-50 advanced trainer jet," President Lee Myung-bak said in a congratulatory message. "I expect the successful production of T-50 aircraft with outstanding pilot training capability will help achieve our dream of entering the world's seventh largest aerospace power within 10 years.'
'The single-engine trainer aircraft features digital flight controls and a modern ground-based training system, which helps new pilots smoothly transition into advanced fighters, such the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightening II, as well as the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
It has a top speed of Mach 1.5. The per-unit price is about $25 million.
The government is accelerating efforts to make its first overseas sale of the``luxury'' T-50, tying the success of the jet to becoming a major arms exporter and reviving its economy.
The government aims to reach $3 billion in defense exports by 2012, and industry and government officials agree that sales of the T-50 are essential to attaining that goal.
But thus far, the marketing of the trainer has produced no tangible results.
The T-50 is competing with Italy's M-346 over deals in the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Israel and Iraq.
The United States is also said to be looking to open a bid for trainer acquisition in the near future.