Pakistan is considering to buy South Korea's T-50 Lead In Fighter Trainer (LIFT) for improving its Air Force training program.
Pakistan took interest in Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) T-50 trainer as a step to improve the collaboration between Pakistan-South Korean defense industries, DefenseNews reported on Sunday.
It might also include a new shipyard in the Pakistani port of Gwadar.
A memorandum to ensure mutual standards of quality was signed by South Korea's Defence Agency for Technology & Quality and Pakistan's Ministry of Defence Production on March 26.
Pakistan's Secretary for Defence Production Lt. Gen. Tanvir Tahir said, "Pakistan is examining the [T-50] and assessing our needs and requirements accordingly."
Author, analyst and former Australian defense attache to Islamabad Brian Cloughley said, "It is apparent that the Koreans are serious about further collaboration, they are not going to waste their time on a meaningless visit but they can be expected to examine options very carefully."
Usman Shabbir of the Pakistan Military Consortium think tank said new training aircraft could be needed once the current Chengdu F-7 variants are retired and stealth aircraft possibly acquired.
Currently, trainees transition from the subsonic intermediate K-8P jet to the supersonic FT-7P, which "seems to be sufficient for now," he said.
He added that the K-8P appears to be having satisfactor performance in the LIFT role.
If a higher performance type is required, the T-50 fits the bill, but financial constrains might force to select more affordable Chinese option, Shabir added. The Hongdu JL-10/L-15 is found to be a more realistic option by Pakistan Air Force.