14 July 2017

News Story: S. Korea aims to expand arms exports

T-50/FA-50 Golden Eagle
By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, July 13 (Yonhap) -- This year may prove to be a key turning point for South Korea's defense industry, as the country hopes to add arms to the list of its major export items.

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), a local defense giant, is bidding for the U.S. Air Force's program, called T-X, to replace its aging fleet of 350 T-38 trainer jets, a deal reportedly worth US$16 billion.

KAI is seeking to supply an upgraded version of the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer jet developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin. The two firms formed a consortium for the offer of T-50A amid a fierce battle with the Boeing-Saab team.

The deal is expected to be awarded late this year, representing one of the biggest defense contracts in a decade.

"We are cautiously optimistic," a KAI official said, requesting anonymity. "In particular, our entrant has a competitive edge in price. Its performance has been already proven with more than 200 aircraft in operation."

The two-seat T-50 is currently used for training pilots in South Korea. It has been exported to Indonesia, Iraq, Thailand and the Philippines.

Global experts acknowledged the excellence of the plane itself.

Read the full story at YonhapNews