T-50 Golden Eagle of Korea Aerospace Industries
By Lee Tae-hoon
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) signed a contract Wednesday to export its T-50 trainer jets to Indonesia, an official of the state-run aircraft maker said.
“Korea has signed a $400 million deal to export 16 T-50s,” Lee Kyung-ho, a spokesman of KAI said, noting that this is the first time for the country to export supersonic jets.
He said KAI will deliver 16 T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer jets by 2013.
On April 12, Indonesia selected KAI as the preferred bidder for its trainer jet program over Russian’s Yakovlev Yak-130 and the Czech Republic’s Aero Vodochody L-159, the two other finalists in the competition.
Italy’s M-346, which defeated the T-50 in trainer jet acquisition deals in the United Arab Emirates in 2009 and Singapore in 2010, was disqualified from the competition in the first round of assessments in May last year.
The export of the T-50 was briefly thrown into question when Korean intelligence officials allegedly broke into the hotel room of a visiting Indonesian delegation in Seoul on Feb. 16.
Observers say that the deal will have positive effects on the country's efforts to export the aircraft to other nations, including Israel, the United States, Poland, India and the United Arab Emirates.
They say the strategic importance and close bilateral ties between Korea and Indonesia played a role in the decision-making process.
Indonesia and Korea are working together to jointly develop a new fighter.
Korea first unveiled the T-50 in 2005, becoming the world’s 12th supersonic jet producer.