T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer jet
By Jung Sung-ki
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has set a goal of achieving $1.5 billion in defense exports this year, up 28 percent from last year's 1.17 billion, the largest amount ever.
``To this end, pan-government efforts to pioneer worldwide defense markets and come up with related measures will be implemented,'' a DAPA spokesman said.
Last year's exports marked a 13 percent increase from the previous year's $1.03 billion, he said.
Key export items included depot level maintenance for submarines, submarine combat systems, wheeled armored vehicles, spare parts for the KT-1 basic trainer and military communication systems, the spokesman said.
About 100 domestic defense companies contributed to expanding arms sales abroad last year, he added.
The spokesman said the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer jet was a key defense good for export next year.
The trainer jet, jointly built by Korea Aerospace Industries and Lockheed Martin of the U.S., is competing for a trainer acquisition deal in Singapore, which is expected to announce the final bidder by March.
The T-50 lost to Italy's Aermacchi M-346 in a contest last year in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE has been negotiating with the Italian firm for final contract but still has an option to retract its decision and negotiate with South Korea over the T-50, according to informed sources.
Other potential consumers for the T-50 include the United States, Iraq, Israel and Poland.
The single-engine jet, featuring digital flight controls and a modern, ground-based training system, is designed to have the maneuverability, endurance and systems to prepare pilots to fly existing and next-generation fighters, such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II.
The jet has a top speed of Mach 1.4 and an operational range of 1,851 kilometers.