Thailand has ordered eight additional T-50 supersonic trainer jets from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to in a government-to-government (G2G) deal estimated at US$260 million.
KAI said that it will deliver the first two units of the T-50TH, a specialized model for Thailand, in November 2019 and the remainder by May 2020. The aircraft will replace the Royal Thai Air Force’s (RTAF) fleet of 40 Aero Vodochody L-39ZA/ART Albatros in the training and combat roles.
According to specifications released earlier by KAI, the T-50TH will be fully combat capable, being fitted with fire control radar — expected to be the Elbit EL/M-2032 — MIL-STD-1760 databus and will have provision for the Link 16 data link.
Thailand had earlier purchased four T-50 trainer jet in 2015 in a deal worth $110 million. The T-50s was selected over over the Chinese Hongdu L-15 trainers.
These are due to be delivered to the RTAF by mid-2018 and will be operated by Wing 4 based at Takhli Air Base in Nakhon Sawan. Six pilots are currently undergoing training on the new platform.
It is understood that the RTAF will acquire an additional four T-50THs in a third batch in order to fulfil its requirement for 16 such aircraft.
With the latest deal, the combined overseas sales of the airplane came to 64 units at $2.93 billion, with clients also including Indonesia, Iraq and the Philippines. KAI said the latest deal will also give a boost to the company’s plan to sell the jet to more countries, including the United States, Argentina and Botswana.
KAI T-50 Golden Eagle (골든이글) is a family of South Korean supersonic advanced trainers and light combat aircraft, developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) with Lockheed Martin.
The T-50 is South Korea’s first indigenous supersonic aircraft and one of the world’s few supersonic trainers. The T-50 is powered by a single GE F404 engine with Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC).
Development began in the late 1990s, and its maiden flight occurred in 2002. The aircraft entered active service with the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) in 2005.
The T-50 has been further developed into aerobatic and combat variants, namely T-50B, TA-50, and FA-50. The F-50 single-seat multirole fighter variant was considered.
The T-50B serves with the ROKAF’s aerobatics team. The TA-50 light attack variant has been ordered by Indonesia. The Philippines ordered 12 units of the FA-50 variant. The T-50A is being marketed as a candidate for the United States Air Force’s next-generation T-X trainer program.