Lockheed Martin has shipped the first major components for the T/A-50 Golden Eagle while finalising a deal with Korean Aerospace Industry (KAI) to market the planned new advanced trainer/light combat aircraft.


KAI expects to start mating the initial US-built components in January and to complete assembly by late next year. The first off our development aircraft is due to fly in June 2002.

Lockheed Martin, as a part of its 13% programme investment, is developing and supplying the wing, designing and integrating the tandem-seat cockpit and providing technical assistance. The company has about 20% of production work, says Robie Notestine, Lockheed Martin director marketing T50 International.

Lockheed Martin and KAI have responsibility for selling the aircraft in their respective home markets and will be pooling their resources internationally. T-50 International has identified an initial 50 potential buyers in Asia, Europe and South America.

KAI claims near-term export prospects in Belgium, Canada, Greece, Israel, Portugal, Spain and Turkey. The emergence of contractor-owned/operated enterprises, such as NATO Flying Training in Canada, is viewed with interest: "We're giving that a great deal of thought and could envision a third party doing that," says Notestine.

Lockheed Martin claims market analysis shows a need outside the US for 600-800 T/A-50s, with the South Korean air force having committed to 94 aircraft. It adds that the supersonic aircraft would be a suitable lead-in trainer for future USAF fighters.

The USAF is to upgrade 470 Northrop Grumman T-38A/Bs rather than order new aircraft. "We've talked to the Air Education Training Command. We want them to know we have an aircraft and to keep them informed," adds Notestine.

Source: Flight International