South Korean aircraft manufacturer KAI said Monday that the US Air Force is planning to rent a small number of KAI’s advanced T-50A trainer jets until new trainer jets arrive from Boeing, the winner of the T-X trainer contest. The US Air Combat Command (ACC) plans to contract Hillwood Aviation to provide four to eight of KAI’s T-50A Golden Eagle advanced jet trainer aircraft to help its aviators develop relevant tactical skills before they begin their formal training with the Boeing T-7A Red Hawk.
Though Lockheed Martin and KAI lost the competition in 2018 to a consortium comprising Boeing and Saab, the lease of four to eight T-50A trainer jets is being reviewed as they are already operational and being exported. When Hillwood Aviation purchases T-50A trainer jets, they will be leased to the US Air Force. T-50A trainer jets will provide approximately 3,000 sorties (4,500 flight hours) annually for four years and 364 days, according to the Air Combat Command. The pricing for each jet is under negotiation.
The US Air Force plans to contract a small number of trainer aircraft to teach skills specific to air combat under its Reforge proof of concept (RFX) programme. These aircraft will be designated F/T-7X, in line with the T-7A designation recently given to the Boeing-Saab Redhawk that was selected to satisfy the USAF’s wider T-X Advanced Pilot Training (APT) requirement. The Air Combat Command (ACC) has drafted a concept of operations to rebuild the current fighter training forge (Reforge CONOP) employing an F/T-7X, ACC variant of the T-7, in a 12-month focused training programme.
The KAI T-50 Golden Eagle 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 variants has been ordered by South Korea, Indonesia, Iraq, Philippines and Thailand. The T-50A was marketed as a candidate for the United States Air Force’s next-generation T-X trainer program but failed to win.