Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd., the country’s sole aircraft manufacturer, said Friday that it reached an understanding to supply primary trainer aircraft to the Air Force Academy.
The memorandum of understanding calls for the KC-100 Naraon single propeller-driven aircraft to be used by fourth-year cadets so they can better understand flying dynamics.
The agreement was reached between KAI, the defense and transportation ministries and the Defense Acquisition Program Administration.
No details on when the final contract will be signed have been made public, but KAI expects a formal contract before the end of the year. It said the total price for the overall contract and the number of planes to be delivered have not been decided.
The plane built by KAI will replace the T-103 trainers currently in use by the academy. There are some 20 T-103s built by
Russia’s Ilyushin Design Bureau in service as trainer aircraft.
The development of the KC-100 was completed last year, with the Air Force Academy likely to become its first user. The low-wing plane can carry four people, and has a maximum cruising speed of 363 kilometers per hour, with a range of 2,020 kilometers.
The plane made with light-weight composite materials and developed for the civil aviation sector has a service ceiling of 7.62 kilometers and comes equipped with a high-tech “glass cockpit” using LCD displays, and a host of avionic systems and safety features, like collision alerts.
KAI said that once the KC-100 takes over the training of cadets, South Korea will be using locally built planes to train all of its Air Force pilots.
The Air Force uses the KT-1 basic trainer and T-50 and TA-50 supersonic jet trainers to get its officers accustomed to front-line combat aircraft and cargo planes.
“The operational use of the aircraft can open new export opportunities and help the domestic aviation industry,” a KAI source said.
Related to the MOU, the transportation ministry said it is aiming to reach a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) with the United States that covers “Part 23” or light aircraft by the end of the year
If reached, a BASA Part 23 could allow South Korean-made light planes to be sold in the United States and most other countries. (Yonhap)