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KOREA ORDERS FIRST 25 T-50 SUPERSONIC TRAINERS

23 Dec 03. Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has received a production contract for 25 T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic advanced jet trainers.

The T-50 is being developed by KAI with the assistance of Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] as its principal subcontractor.

The contract was awarded by the Republic of Korea Defense Procurement Agency on Dec. 19, for the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF). The contract covers the aircraft, alternate mission equipment, integrated logistics support elements and production start-up costs.

The aircraft will be built at KAI’s modern aircraft production facilities at Sacheon, South Korea. The first production T-50 will be delivered in late 2005.

“We are thrilled with this decision to go into production on the T-50,” said Kil, Hyoung-Bo, president of KAI. “We have been looking forward to this milestone since we started Full-Scale Development in 1997. Our entire team – composed of the Republic of Korea Air Force, KAI, the rest of the Korean aerospace industry, Lockheed Martin and our international industry partners – has worked in close cooperation and very diligently in meeting or exceeding all program requirements on schedule. The T-50 is a critical program in Korea’s national goal of developing a world-class aerospace industry this decade.”

Kil said, “The T-50 now will transition from the only supersonic trainer in development to the only one in production. It is the best available trainer in preparing pilots for both current high-performance fighters like the F-16, F-15, Eurofighter and Rafale, as well as the next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. This highly capable trainer can serve the advanced trainer needs not only of the ROKAF, but also other modern air forces around the world.”

The Korean government had earlier approved plans to purchase about 100 aircraft, half in the basic T-50 configuration and half in the T-50 Lead-In Fighter Trainer (LIFT) version. The T-50 LIFT version is designated the A-50 by the ROKAF and includes a multimode radar, an internal 20 mm cannon and a weapons delivery capability.

The 25 aircraft in the initial contract to KAI are all in the basic T-50 configuration. The remaining aircraft in the approved plan will be purchased in a follow-on contract.

“We are looking forward to integrating this great trainer into our air force,” said Maj. Gen. Namgung, Hyuk, Aerospace Projects Group Commander, ROKAF. “Like the other top air forces in the world, we are committed to providing the best equipment and training for our personnel, and the T-50 contributes enormously to both objectives. The T-50 represents the most modern, highest-performance, advanced jet trainer for all our student pilots. And the A-50 will be a cost-effective lead-in fighter trainer for those selected for the fighter branch.”

The T-50 Golden Eagle is being developed by KAI for the Republic of Korea Air Force. Lockheed Martin, as principal subcontractor to KAI, is providing technical expertise for the program and is responsible for developing the T-50 avionics system, flight control system and wings. The two companies are cooperatively marketing the T-50 internationally.

Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. is the Republic of Korea’s national aerospace company, established in 1999 with the consolidation of Samsung Aerospace, Daewoo Heavy Industries and Hyundai Space and Aircraft Co. KAI lines of business include fixed-wing aircraft, helicopter aircraft and satellites. Its major products are the KF-16, KT-1 basic trainer, T-50, SB427 helicopters, UAVs, aerostructures and KOMPSAT satellite program.

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