KAI Strengthens T-50 Marketing Cooperation With Lockheed

Credit: Lockheed Martin

SINGAPORE—To help Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) position itself to better compete for future jet trainer contracts in North America, the South Korean manufacturer has signed a teaming agreement with Lockheed Martin to market the T-50 worldwide.

KAI said the pact, an upgrade on the companies’ previous strategic cooperative partnership, is focused on campaigns expected in the coming years. These include competitions to deliver U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy tactical trainers as well as the Canada Future Fighter Lead-In Training (FFLIT) program. The U.S. Air Force is mulling the purchase of at least 100 tactical trainers under the Advanced Tactical Trainers, while the Navy is looking for a Tactical Surrogate Aircraft that can be used as both a trainer and an aggressor.

In 2018, the T-50 lost out to a Boeing-Saab partnership for the U.S. Air Force’s T-X program; now redesignated as the T-7A Red Hawk. 

Also in KAI’s sights are opportunities in Eastern Europe, South America and Africa. Colombia, Poland and Slovakia are among the countries where KAI is actively participating either in jet trainer or light attack aircraft programs. In November 2021 South Korea set a target of exporting 1,000 T-50s.

“With signing of the teaming agreement, we will be able to begin various competitive enhancement activities between the two companies, and I have confidence in exporting 1,000 units worldwide, including the U.S. market, and share the important role of expanding K-defense exports,” KAI President Ahn Hyun-ho says.

Aviation Week Network’s Military Fleet Discovery shows there are 62 T-50/FA-50 jets outside of South Korea. The country with the most is Iraq, which has 24 of the type.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.