South Korea is to extend its development of the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI)/Lockheed Martin T-50 Golden Eagle advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft to add variants dedicated to electronic attack and reconnaissance duties, according to a senior official from the country's air force.

Respectively dubbed the EA-50 and RA-50, the new variants are to be developed from the South Korean air force's future FA-50 light attack development of the T-50 advanced and TA-50 lead-in fighter trainer, says Brig Gen Hee-woo Lee, the service's T-50 programme manager.

© KAI   

Electronic attack and reconnaissance versions of the T-50 are to be developed for nation's air force

Planned role equipment for the new aircraft includes active jamming pods and Raytheon AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missiles for the EA-50 and an electro-optical/infrared pod for the RA-50, potentially the Elop long-range oblique imagery system already ordered for the air force's Lockheed F-16s. Additional equipment to be used in common with the FA-50 includes radar warning receivers and counter­measures dispensers, says Lee.

"The EA-50 and RA-50 are not funded yet, but we will prepare the budget this year and expect a programme to start within two or three years," Lee told IQPC's annual Military Flying Training conference in London last week.

South Korea has so far ordered 25 T-50s, with another 50 pending. However, Lee says the air force's requirement for the indigenous Golden Eagle will eventually increase to more than 140 aircraft, with its fleet to include FA-50s to replace its McDonnell Douglas F-4s and Northrop F-5E/Fs. The service plans to use combat versions to protect South Korean territory, operating beneath the more-capable F-16 and Boeing F-15K fighters to provide defensive counter-air and close-air support services.

On 1 March the South Korean air force began its first 34-week advanced training course with the T-50 at Gwang-Ju airbase, where the service's initial 12 examples have been delivered. The air force has completed the training of instructor pilots for the type. The T-50 - which will replace Northrop T-38, BAE Systems Hawk and F-5 trainers - also participated in a combat-readiness check in January, successfully operating alongside the F-16.


Source: Flight International