Iraq has signed a contract with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to buy 24 T-50 Golden Eagle advanced jet trainers. According to KAI, the deal at the outset is worth $1.1 billion, including initial pilot training, but will almost double in value with the addition of support over 20 years. Iraq also evaluated the Aero Vodochody L-159, BAE Hawk Mk 128 and Yakovlev Yak-130, according to KAI.
Although Lockheed Martin has been helping KAI to market the T-50 overseas, having contributed to its development, the Koreans are claiming full credit for this sale. KAI said that the effort began in April 2011 when Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki visited Korea and was shown the aircraft. The company noted that sales campaigns for the T-50 are also under way in Botswana, Chile and the Philippines. At the recent Dubai Airshow, Lockheed Martin exhibited a T-50 simulator and emphasized the cost benefits of “downloading” conversion training from front-line fighters such as the F-16. Iraq has bought F-16s.
So has Poland, where the Ministry of Defense has published the cost of the bids that it received for its advanced jet pilot training requirement. The requirement includes eight aircraft and the operation of a full ground training system. The bid submitted by Lockheed Martin UK using the T-50 was the most expensive, at $593.4 million. BAE Systems bid $577.4 million for a system based on the Hawk. By far the lowest bid ($384.4 million) came from Alenia Aermacchi. Poland is due to make a decision in the first quarter of next year.