Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has secured an $360 million operational support deal for Iraq’s fleet of 24 T-50IQ advanced jet trainers.

The contract will run for three years, and will see KAI supply maintenance, logistics support, and munitions management for the fleet, says the Korean airframer.

Iraq T-50IQ KAI

Source: Iraqi Air Force

Two of Iraq’s 24 KAI T-50IQ advanced jet trainers

Iraq’s T-50IQ fleet stems from a 2013 order.

KAI says this marks the first major support deal signed with an international customer. It says that producing an aircraft accounts for about 30-40% of its lifetime cost, while supporting it over a 30-year service life accounts for 60-70%.

KAI aims to expand its support operation, nothing that there are 156 KT-1 basic trainers and T-50 series aircraft in service with international customers.

At the time of the Iraqi sale, a source told FlightGlobal that the T-50IQ is based on the most advanced version of the T-50, the FA-50, which can serve both as an advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft.

In South Korean service, the FA-50 is equipped with the Link 16 tactical data link, a mechanically scanned array radar, radar warning receiver and a night vision imaging system. It is capable of carrying 4,500kg (9,910lb) of weapons, has a 20mm cannon and can carry air-to-air missiles. All T-50 variants are powered by the General Electric F404 engine.

KAI says it is working to increase the FA-50s range and expand its weapons capabilities.

In December 2020, Cobham Mission Systems said it will provide an inflight refuelling probe for the FA-50. The aircraft has also undergone tests with the Lockheed Martin Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod.

In early 2021, the FA-50 was cleared for the Lockheed Martin Sniper Advanced Targeting pod.  South Korea is not currently using the Sniper Pod, but the option is available for international customers.

Updated with FA-50’s clearance to use Sniper Pod.