Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), South Korea’s sole aircraft manufacturer, said Monday it has received a US$360 million repair and maintenance deal for trainer jets in Iraq. In the three-year deal signed with the Iraqi defense ministry, KAI will provide repair and maintenance services for the T-50IQ advanced trainer jets operated by the Iraqi air force as well as training programs for pilots and engineers. Korea Aerospace Industries exported 24 T-50IQ trainer jets to Iraq in 2013.
Iraq was negotiating the acquisition of T-50 trainer jets, having first publicly expressed official interest during the Korea–Iraq summit in Seoul on 24 February 2009. In April 2010, Iraq reopened the jet lead-in fighter-trainer competition for 24 aircraft, in which TA-50 competed. In December 2013, it was announced that Iraq signed a contract for 24 aircraft of the FA-50 variant designated T-50IQ, plus additional equipment and pilot training over the next 20 years. Deliveries were to begin in April 2016, with all aircraft to be delivered over the next 12 months.
The Korea Aerospace Industries T-50 Golden Eagle is a family of South Korean supersonic advanced jet 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. 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 South Korean air force’s aerobatics team. The TA-50 light attack variant has been ordered by Indonesia. The Philippines ordered 12 units of the FA-50 light fighter variant. 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. Thailand ordered 12 units of the T-50 advanced trainer variant.