The United States Air Force is planning to lease T-50A trainers made by Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Lockheed Martin to teach pilots "tactical fighter skills," ahead of beginning training in their new T-7A Red Hawks.
The USAF will lease between four to eight T-50A trainers, even as the jet lost the T-X contest to the T-7A, built by Boeing and Saab, in September 2018. The first T-7As are expected to arrive in squadron strength in 2023.
“Though KAI lost the competition in 2018 to a consortium comprising Boeing and Saab, the lease of four to eight T-50A trainer jets is being reviewed as they are already operational and being exported,” a KAI official was quoted as saying by The Korea Herald.
The aircraft will be sold to Hillwood Aviation, which will then lease the aircraft to the USAF. The aircraft will teach pilots “tactical skills” before beginning formal training in the T-7A, the newspaper reported citing USAF's Air Combat Command.
"When Hillwood Aviation purchases T-50A trainer jets, they will be leased to the USAF. The pricing for each jet is under negotiation," the official said.
The jets are to provide 3,000 sorties (or 4,500 flight hours) annually for five years, ACC said.