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KAI’s trainer jet exports to US fumbled by coronavirus

KAI’s T-50A advanced trainer jet (KAI)
KAI’s T-50A advanced trainer jet (KAI)
The US Air Force has postponed its plan to rent four to eight T-50A advanced trainer jets manufactured by Korea Aerospace Industries due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the US, according to industry sources on Tuesday.

The Air Force is currently reviewing a plan to rent T-50A jets until its new T-7A Red Hawks arrive from Boeing. The Air Force aims to rent the jets from Hillwood Aviation after the US-based contractor purchases the aircraft from KAI.

Though the Air Force was set to officially announce the plan this month, it has delayed the announcement again. In the first half of this year, the Air Force pushed back the announcement to August.

“It seems the US Air Force is having difficulties in securing enough budget as the US is diverting some of its defense budget to the health care budget due to the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said an industry source.

The T-50A was the T-7A’s top competitor for the T-X program contest won by Boeing in September 2018. The first T-7As are expected to arrive in 2023.

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