The Korean Aerospace Industries-Lockheed Martin joint bid for the US Air Force Advanced Pilot Training project, the T-50A trainer jet is “well placed” to win the contract, a South Korean think tank, the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade (KIET) has said.
The KIET’s 2018-2022 forecast said that Korea's T-50A is well placed to secure the Advanced Pilot Training project that could be worth some 14 trillion won ($13 billion). The US is already the single largest buyer of Korean-made weapons, although Seoul imports far more products than it ships to the North American country, Yohap news reported.
The T-50A is a variant of the T-50 Golden Eagle currently serving in the Korean Air Force and several other militaries around the world.
KIET said if the jet, built with support from Lockheed Martin, is chosen by the United States it will mark a turning point for Korea's aerospace industry.
Other contenders for the project include Leonardo DRS with its T-100, a USAF-optimized variant of the Italian M-346 trainer which was born out of a partnership with Russia that saw Moscow develop the Yak-130 combat/trainer.
In addition, Boeing has offered a brand-new aircraft built from scratch with partner Saab.
One of the main criteria for the USAF Advanced Pilot Training Project contenders to meet will be an ability to train pilots to fly fifth generation aircraft such as the F-35 and F-22. This is where Lockheed Martin claims it has an edge having built both the aircraft.