Indonesia shortlists T-50 for trainer jet requirement
By Jung Sung-ki
Indonesia has shortlisted Korea’s T-50 Golden Eagle trainer jet as one of three candidates for its advanced jet trainer requirement, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said Monday.
Competitors are Russia’s Yak-130 and the Czech-built L-159B, DAPA officials said. Indonesia is to buy 16 advanced trainer aircraft.
The T-50, jointly developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Lockheed Martin of the United States, is an advanced supersonic trainer and considered among the best on the global market.
But the trainer apparently lost out to Italy’s M-346 in contests in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Singapore.
“Indonesia is one of Korea’s key arms partners, and both sides have been satisfied with bilateral cooperation programs,” a DAPA official said. “We’re making the utmost efforts to make the first overseas sale of the T-50.”
Indonesia purchased KAI’s KT-1 basic trainers in 2001 and 2005. It also recently signed a memorandum of understanding on the co-development of the KF-X fighter jet.
Last month, a government delegation visited Indonesia for talks over the export of T-50s, he said. A top official from Seoul’s Ministry of National Defense is also scheduled to visit the Southeast Asian nation later this week to tout the Golden Eagle.
KAI also hoped to reopen talks with the UAE over the sale of the T-50, as Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi has failed to finalize a deal with the Emirates for a year.
The single-engine trainer aircraft features digital flight controls and a modern ground-based training system, which helps new pilots smoothly transition into advanced fighters, such the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightening II, as well as the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
It has a top speed of Mach 1.5, and the per-unit price is about $25 million.
The government is accelerating efforts to make its first overseas sale of the T-50, tying the success of the jet to becoming a major arms exporter and reviving the economy.
The government aims to reach $3 billion in defense exports by 2012, and industry and government officials agree that sales of the T-50 are essential to attaining that goal.
The T-50 is also competing with Italy's M-346 in deals in Israel, Poland and Iraq.
The United States is also said to be looking to open a bid for trainer acquisition in the near future.