KAI Unveils Trainer Jet for Turkey
By Jung Sung-ki
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) unveiled an export version of its KT-1 Woongbi basic trainer for Turkey in a rollout ceremony in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province, Wednesday.
The ceremony was held to coincide with the Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition (ADEX) 2009 in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province.
About 100 high-profile guests, including KAI Chairman and CEO Kim Hong-kyung and Murad Bayar, undersecretary for the defense industry of the Turkish Ministry of National Defense, attended the ceremony.
The KT-1T variant has a few upgrades from the original KT-1 aircraft in accordance with the Turkish air force, the KAI said in a news release.
The upgrades include a pressurization system, a glass cockpit, an onboard oxygen-generating system and a hands-on throttle-and-stick, it said.
KAI signed a $400-million contract with Turkey in 2007 to export 40 KT-1T modified aircraft, with an option to sell 15 more units after the delivery of the initial order.
Jointly developed by the state-run Agency for Defense Development from 1988 to 1998, the KT-1 was the first in its class to be designed entirely by computer.
The trainer is equipped with all the systems needed to teach intricate acrobatic maneuvers, as well as a computer-controlled flight system.
The 10.3-meter aircraft has turbo-prop engines boasting 950-horsepower that can generate a maximum speed of up to 574 kilometers per hour. It can fly at an altitude of 9,000 to 11,000 meters and cover a distance of 1,700 kilometers without refueling.
There is an armed variant of the KT-1 ― the KO-1 forward air control plane.
KAI sold 17 KT-1s to Indonesia between 2001 and 2008.
The domestic airworthiness certification system that took effect in August will help facilitate the export of the indigenous trainer jet, said officials from KAI and the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
"The introduction of the airworthiness system for military aircraft will help ensure flight safety for the military aircraft business, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the country's aircraft industry," a DAPA spokesman said. "For example, the export competitiveness of the indigenous KT-1T and T-50 trainers will be improved to a great extent because of the system meeting international standards."
Under the system, a DAPA-affiliated committee of airplane experts and technicians monitor, inspect and evaluate procedures related to domestic military aircraft design, production and maintenance to check whether the planes are safe and their specifications meet international standards.
Previously, South Korea had to pay foreign airworthiness agencies to evaluate its military aircraft and wait for certificates.
Less than 10 nations, including the U.S., the United Kingdom, France, Canada and other NATO member states, have their own airworthiness certification system in place.
KAI, South Korea's only aircraft maker, is displaying the KT-1 trainer jet, the T-50 Golden Eagle trainer aircraft, the Surion utility helicopter and unmanned aerial vehicles in the Seoul ADEX 2009.