Lockheed Martin Confirms New T-50 Variant for T-X

 - February 12, 2016, 7:27 AM
Lockheed Martin’s T-50A proposal for the new U.S. Air Force advanced pilot training is based on the Korean Aerospace FA-50 Golden Eagle. (Image: Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin (LM) confirmed that it will offer a new variant of the Korean T-50 Golden Eagle jet trainer for the U.S. Air Force T-X advanced pilot training (APT) competition. The new variant was revealed two months ago by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) in a ceremony at its Sacheon production facility. Lockheed Martin said that, if selected, it would build the T-50A at its Greenville, S.C. facility.

“We carefully studied a clean-sheet option for the T-X competition and determined that it posed excessive risk to the cost and schedule requirements,” said Rob Weiss, executive v-p and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Projects (ADP, also known as The Skunk Works). Two of the other likely T-X contenders will be all-new designs, submitted by the partnerships between Boeing and Saab, and between Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. But Weiss claimed that the T-50A “is the only offering that meets all of the requirements and can deliver on schedule.”

Lockheed Martin said that unlike previous versions of the T-50, the T-50A has an in-flight refueling receptacle and a "fifth-generation" cockpit (with a single large-screen display). Otherwise, the T-50A is similar to the FA-50 ground attack version that KAI is currently delivering to the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF). This version incorporates air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons, a multimode radar, an electronic warfare suite and an advanced datalink. But in the T-50A, these and other air combat systems would be "emulated" via an Embedded Training System (ETS). Lockheed Martin also noted that its accompanying T-50A Ground-Based Training System (GBTS) would deliver innovative technologies to deliver an immersive experience for APT and provide options for "offloading" flying training sorties to simulation.

In ROKAF service, the T-50 has already trained more than 1,000 fighter pilots, in less time and fewer sorties and at lower cost, Lockhhed Martin claimed. It has reduced to nine the number of flights required to convert those pilots to Korea’s F-16s, Lockheed Martin added.