Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) plans to complete flight envelope testing for the T-50 advanced trainer by the end of this month, freeing up the aircraft for evaluation by potential export customers.

Industry sources say Israel expressed interest in flying the T-50 in September, but this request could not be met because the aircraft was not ready. After the aircraft has been flown to its load limit of 8g, it will be available for test flights.

Israel and the UAE are the top near-term export prospects for the new trainer, co-developed by KAI and Lockheed Martin. KAI is also discussing possible sales to some of the 12 European countries that are now part of the Advanced European Jet Training, or Eurotraining, programme. KAI believes the Eurotraining in-service date will slip until at least 2012 and is in talks with a few partners who require a new aircraft earlier. Other long-term prospects include Singapore and the USA.

Sources say the T-50 has been flown to 7g and has been pushed to a maximum speed of Mach 1.3 and altitude of 45,000ft (13,700m). In-flight fuel tanks separation and gun tests are also complete.

Flight tests demonstrating the T-50's 8g load limit are scheduled for later this month. Weapon separation tests also will begin soon and take several months to complete, leading to delivery of the first production aircraft in October 2005. Korea is acquiring 50 T-50 advanced trainers and has a requirement for 44 A-50 lead-in fighter trainers. There are now four prototype aircraft flying, two in the basic T-50 configuration and two in the A-50 configuration.



Source: Flight International