Trigger happy over the T-50

South Korean publications are abuzz with a press pickup thatIndonesiawill buy 16 KAI T-50 advanced jet trainer aircraft to replace its aging BAEHawks. The apparent source of the news was a story from Indonesian publisherSeputar Indonesia, quoting Indonesian Air Force chief of staff Imam Sufaat.

Unfortunately no amount of searching on Seputar’s websiteproduces an article mentioning the T-50, let alone the air force chiefcommitting to a 16 aircraft purchase. There is also nothing about this onAntara or in the Indonesian papers.

T-50.gifThe Korean reports also say that the Korean government hasnot heard anything about a purchase, and a KAI executive tells FlightGlobalthat he has heard nothing. 



Hmmm…

If nothing else, the Korean press’s eagerness to pickup this vague hint of news belies the sense of urgency around winning an overseas customer for the highprofile T-50. The aircraft has no overseas wins after losing out to the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 in the United ArabEmirates (though this deal seems to be in limbo), and in Singapore.

Despite a strange incident in January allegedly involving SouthKorean spies in an Indonesian defence delegation’s hotel room, KAI and the T-50 would appear to be in a strong position. South Korea‘s air force and coast guard operateC-235′s made by Indonesia Aerospace, and at Farnborough last year Korea and Indonesiasigned an MOU to work on the KF-X project – although Indonesia‘s commitment to thisproject could be in doubt.

Watch this space.

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