Bizarre twist in T-50 Indonesia campaign

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South Korean and Indonesian newspapers are abuzz with a bizarretwist in Seoul‘squest to find a foreign client for the Korea Aerospace Industries/LockheedMartin T-50 Golden Eagle.

Essentially two men and a woman allegedly from South Korea‘s spy agency, the NationalIntelligence Service, recently broke into a Seoul hotel room occupied by a member of avisiting Indonesian trade delegation. Their supposed goal? Details about Indonesia‘snegotiating position vis-à-vis the T-50.

A member of the Indonesian delegation surprised the threeintruders as they peered at a laptop, and the trio departed in haste. Personally,I’d have had two team members on lookout, and one team member peering at thescreen, but never mind me – I’m not a professional spook.

Anyway, a Korean paper quoted an anonymous Seoul official as saying this: “The NISagents, for the national interest, were trying to figure out the Indonesiandelegation’s negotiating strategies.

In a fine exampleof understatement, he added that “getting caught was an unintendedmistake.”

The incident was reported to police, who confiscated thehotel’s CCTV footage. Another Korean paper reports that the NIS then confiscated the CCTV footage fromthe police. So much for seeing any of this on Youtube.

and Seoul – eyeing bilateral ties and, dare I say,saving face – seem keen to downplay the incident.

After losing to the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 in both the United Arab Emirates and Singapore trainer competitions, it isunderstandable that South Koreais keen to see the T-50 win in Indonesia,where it has been short listed with the Yakovlev Yak-130 and Aero VodochovyL-159.

Whether the intruders had anything to do with the T-50, or wereeven NIS spies,or learned anything remotely useful, is anybody’s guess. Nonetheless, the storyprovides an amusing diversion from the vast amounts of time and bureaucracyinvolved in major military aircraft buys.

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