EADS has initiated talks with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) with a view to offering the T-50 for the Eurotrainer requirement. A team from EADS visited KAI last month to discuss the modifications that would be necessary to “Europeanize” the advanced trainer that is already in production for the RoKAF, and a return visit by a Korean delegation is planned.
Meanwhile, first deliveries of an initial order for 94 aircraft are expected in October but a contract for more than 100 of the A-50 Golden Eagle combat aircraft variant is expected sometime soon to replace F-5s in current service.
This will assure volume production of the T-50/A-50 into the next decade and places KAI in a strong position to bid for known requirements in such countries as the United Arab Emirates, Greece and Poland. Indeed, two T-50s will participate in the Dubai Air Show in November and KAI hopes that the UAE will be the launch export customer.
EADS had similar hopes for its MAKO project but the UAE was unwilling to help fund the program, which is now effectively dead. Hence the EADS interest said to be shown in the T-50 which, having been designed with inputs from Lockheed Martin, may be perceived to be the natural lead-in advanced trainer for air forces–such as the UAE and Poland–equipped with the F-16.