Following a series of successes in Asia, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI, Chalet C27) has its eyes set on the competitive European market. The aircraft manufacturer will be offering the KT-1 Woongbi turboprop trainer and T-50 Golden Eagle advanced jet trainer to a number of potential Western clients.
“Some European countries have plans to replace their current pilot-training aircraft. KAI has a full spectrum of trainer aircraft and combat aircraft, so we are able to provide a basic trainer, advanced jet trainer, combat aircraft, and aggressor aircraft to meet these requirements,” a KAI spokesperson told AIN. She added that currently the company is keen on the Spanish Air Force’s basic trainer program and Greece's Hellenic Air Force (HAF) advanced trainer program.
Spain is currently using 35 Chilean ENAER T-35C Pillans for basic pilot training. License built by EADS CASA in 1986, they are designated locally as the E.26 Tamiz.
Similarly, the HAF is looking to retire its aging fleet of approximately 40 North American T-2C/E Buckeye jet trainers, which they have been flying since 1976.
KAI remains tight-lipped about the values and details of the respective deals, but a similar basic trainer contract inked with Peru in 2012 was worth $210 million for 20 KT-1P trainers and included terms for local industry to assemble 16 airframes. Similarly, Iraq’s trainer deal for 24 T-50 fighters was worth around $1.1 billion, with another two-decade follow-on support contract worth close to another $1 billion.
“Currently, some training service providers are also interested in our platform because the KT-1 and T-50 are already proven by the Republic of Korea Air Force and our international customers,” the spokesperson added. The T-50 has been exported to Indonesia, Iraq, the Philippines and, most recently, Thailand.
Also looking to further deepen its in-house expertise and independence, KAI opened its first aircraft structural testing building on May 31. The facility is the largest in Korea and will be for testing the next generation of aircraft, including the KF-X fighter.
This year at its Farnborough Airshow booth (Hall 3, Stand 3100), KAI is showcasing scale models of the T-50 advanced jet trainer, FA-50 light jet fighter, KT-1 basic trainer, KUH-1 Surion helicopter, LAH (Light Armed Helicopter), and LCH (Light Civil Helicopter).