South Korea is exporting its first aircraft this week and aims to boost sales of its military trainers, in part by partnering a UK company for the UK's Military Flight Training System (MFTS).

The country's first aircraft export, a Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KT-1B basic trainer, was released to the Indonesian air force on 25 April. The trainer will not be formally handed over until July after it has been shipped to Indonesia, reassembled and then flight tested.

KAI plans to deliver this year the seven KT-1Bs ordered by Indonesia and says it is discussing a 13-trainer follow-on order. KAI is also offering the KT-1B and the T-50 advanced trainer to several countries, although no deals are believed to be imminent. Colombia, Turkey and Venezuela are potential KT-1 customers. KAI, with Canada's CMC Electronics, is developing the KT-1C with a new glass cockpit, which is scheduled to fly in 2005.

A KAI official says the company is in "active dialogue" with several UK organisations to offer a joint solution for the UK MFTS programme.

KAI envisages packaging the KT-1B with one or two versions of the T-50 for private training operators. Production of the T-50 fighter lead-in trainer (LIFT) version will begin later this year, with first delivery due to the Korean air force in 2005.

KAI aims to build 1.5 T-50s a month but boost production if foreign sales materialise for the basic T-50, LIFT and a light attack model that will be developed if there is customer demand.

Source: Flight International