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KAI to lease trainer jets to US despite losing contract to Boeing

KAI’s T-50A (Yonhap)
KAI’s T-50A (Yonhap)


South Korean aircraft manufacturer KAI said Monday that the US Air Force is planning to rent a small number of KAI’s advanced T-50A trainer jets until new trainer jets arrive from Boeing, the winner of the T-X trainer contest.

According to a notice posted online by the US General Services Administration in January, the US Air Combat Command plans to contract Hillwood Aviation to provide four to eight of KAI’s T-50A Golden Eagle advanced jet trainer aircraft to help its aviators develop relevant tactical skills before they begin their formal training with the Boeing T-7A Red Hawk.

“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 said.

“When Hillwood Aviation purchases T-50A trainer jets, they will be leased to the US Air Force. The pricing for each jet is under negotiation.”

T-50A trainer jets will provide approximately 3,000 sorties (4,500 flight hours) annually for four years and 364 days, according to the Air Combat Command. 

By Kim Byung-wook (kbw@heraldcorp.com)
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