South Korea is seeking to build a pilot training center in Portugal that will be equipped with the Korean Aerospace Industries' T-50 supersonic military jet trainer, a government source said Saturday.
The defense ministry source, who declined to be identified, said Portugal was tapped as the primary negotiation partner for the International Military Flight Training Center Consortium last year. He said final negotiations are underway to sort out details that may lead to a memorandum of understanding being reached as early as next month.
T-50 trainer jet (Korea Aerospace Industries)
The IMFACC plan calls for South Korea to inject 300 billion won ($267 million) over 30 years to set up a jet pilot training facility. The center will be manned by South Korean military instructors who will be tasked with training foreign pilots on the KAI aircraft.
The mach 1.5-capable T-50 Golden Eagle is already in service with the South Korean Air Force and is a trainer with flight characteristics on par with many of today's frontline fighters and attack aircraft.
Seoul had been examining candidate sites for an IMFACC in the United States, Australia, the Philippines and Spain since 2009, as part of its program to attract international interest in the Korean jet.
At present Indonesia has placed an order for the T-50, and plans to use it as an advanced trainer for its air force pilots.
If an IMFACC facility is built, Korea can help foreign countries train pilots on the very advanced jet trainer at affordable costs, and could also promote the T-50 in the Europe.
Local military insiders said that there has been a growing trend, particularly among smaller countries, to send military pilots abroad for training.
Training foreign pilots can translate into closer military ties in the future and possible purchases of Korean weapons systems.
In addition, an IMFACC can be used by Korean pilots whonwill not be affected by flight time restrictions imposed at home due to complaints lodged by the public. This can cut the time and expense of training pilots and bolster the country's national defense. (Yonhap News)
T-50 비행훈련센터 포르투갈에 들어설 듯
우리 군이 교육비를 받고 다른 나라 조종사를 양성하는 '국제 군 비행훈련센터(IMFACC)'가 포르투갈에 들어설 것으로 보인다.
국방부 관계자는 11일 "IMFACC 사업과 관련해 지난해 포르투갈을 우선협상자로 선정해 현재 막바지 협상 중"이라면서 "이르면 다음 달 양해각서(MOU)를 체결할 예정"이라고 말했다.
IMFACC는 훈련계약을 맺은 해외 비행훈련센터에 우리 조종 교관과 고등훈련기 T-50을 파견해 해당국 조종사를 교육하는 사업이다.
군은 2009년부터 미국과 필리핀, 스페인 등을 센터 예정지로 검토해왔다. 센터 설립과 운용에는 계약기간 30년 동안 총 3천억 원이 투입되는 것으로 알려졌다.
국방부 관계자는 "IMFACC 사업으로 우리는 비행훈련센터 운영 비용을 절감하고 해당 국가는 신형 훈련기로 고급 비행교육을 받는 효과를 얻을 수 있다"면서 "유럽에 T-50을 홍보하는 데도 도움이 될 것"이라고 전했다. (연합뉴스)