FARNBOROUGH: Korea Aerospace Industries' T-50 rides high in UK

Farnborough
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The Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) T-50 is the only Asian-developed aircraft at Farnborough this year. Three T-50s of the Korean air force's Black Eagles display team are at this year's show, with one on static, one performing flying displays and one in reserve.

The type is riding a high in the UK after the Black Eagles won the best team at two prominent UK air shows: the Waddington International and Royal International Air Tattoo.

"The T-50 looks sexy and performs a great display," says Sang Choi, vice-president and head of international marketing for KAI. "The pilots have great skills."

Although the T-50 has struggled to win international customers, losing to the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 in the Singapore and Israel trainer competitions, Sang is confident of the type's international prospects.

He notes that the international trainer is based on the FA-50, an attack variant of the T-50 now being introduced into the Korean air force as a Northrop F-5 replacement.

He expects Poland, which had previously postponed its trainer competition for 16 aircraft, to issue a request for proposals before the end of 2012. "We're not sure if the requirements will be the same or if they will lower them," says Sang.

Sang declined to comment on persistent speculation in the Philippine press that Manila will acquire 12 T-50s.

"We are grateful for Manila's interest and will hope to meet any requests they may have," says Sang.

He also believes KAI is in a strong position to sell Iraq 24 FA-50s, with 12 configured as trainers and 12 as attack aircraft.