With export orders from Philippines under its belt, the Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) is looking to expand its sales in Africa and South America.
South Korea will provide the Philippines with 12 FA-50 fighter jets worth $415.7 million. Priced at $35 million a jet, the FA-50 presumably costs lower than the JAS 39 Gripen besides lower operating cost than the Swedish aircraft, which itself is considered the cheapest fighter aircraft made by a major Western manufacturer.
A KAI source told Defenseworld.net that the company “is seeking to export the T-50 family jets to Peru, Chile and Botswana. When the U.S. Air Force's T-38 replacement program begins in earnest, we will do actively for the marketing campaign”.
In December 2013, the Iraqi Air Force signed a $1.1 billion contract for 24 T-50 aircraft, which is the most advanced version of the FA-50, and will be able to serve both as an advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft.
During the same time, the FA-50 lost a contract to supply eight AJT aircraft worth $383 million to Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master.
“FA-50 of KAI has strengths for competitive price with good performance as an advanced trainer and light attack fighter, compare to other contenders in low-class fighter markets over the globe”, he added. “Furthermore, it has received ‘love-calls’ from countries in East-South Asia, Middle East, Africa and South America”.
Meanwhile, KAI is on track for the KF-X program, or Korean Fighter experimental, which is to replace old aircraft such as F-4 and F-5 that have been operated by Korean Air Force, to a medium fighter such as F-16+, by Korean indigenous development. “Detailed performance for KF-X has not confirmed yet, however, KAI will take part in this program with passion as a representative aerospace company in Korea,” the source added.
The aircraft is equipped with Joint Direct Attack Munition, the Sensor-Fused Weapon and the AGM-65 Maverick. According to KAI, the FA-50 could eventually add the Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser and a host of Israeli munitions equipped with the Rafael Spice electro-ptical/infrared/GPS/inertial guidance kit.