The global open-source intelligence company Janes reported that the Royal Thai Air Force’s (RTAF’s) Directorate of Operations has announced that it will procure an additional two T-50TH Golden Eagle lead-in fighter trainer aircraft from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). The planned procurement, which will increase the size of the RTAF’s T-50TH fleet to 14, is budgeted at THB2.36 billion (USD72 million) and will include spare parts, and related equipment and tools. The acquisition having been delayed by a year due to funding constraints linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In September 2015, the Thai government chose a KAI T-50 variant, called the T-50TH, for its air force over the Chinese Hongdu L-15 to replace its aging Aero Vodochody L-39ZA Albatross lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT)/light attack aircraf operated by its light attack 401 squadron in central Thailand. The 4 T-50TH aircraft are scheduled to be delivered by March 2018. In July 2017, Thailand’s government approved the procurement of 8 more aircraft with a contract signing expected later in the month.
The Royal Thai Air Force’s T-50TH will be fully combat capable, being fitted with fire control radar â€” expected to be the Elbit EL/M-2032 â€” MIL-STD-1760 databus and will have provision for the Link 16 data link. KAI received two separate orders to build four T-50TH trainer jets worth US$110 million in 2015 and eight T-50TH jets valued at $260 million last year. Two of the first four trainer jets will be delivered to the Southeast Asian country via a 12-hour ferry flight. The aircraft manufacturer has exported a total of 64 T-50 trainer jets worth $2.9 billion since 2011.
The KAI T-50 Golden Eagle is a family of South Korean supersonic advanced jet trainer and light combat aircraft, developed by Korea Aerospace Industries 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 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 South Korean air force’s aerobatics team.