The Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI)/Lockheed Martin T-50 Golden Eagle advanced trainer has flown supersonically for the first time. The first test aircraft reached Mach 1.05 on its 60th flight last week.

Two T-50s are now flying as part of the test programme while two pre-series aircraft will be added in August. A total of 60.5h have been logged to date.

KAI T-50 international marketing director Alex Jun says the aircraft, powered by a single General Electric F404-102, flew at M1.05 at 40,000ft (12,200m) for around 1min. Future trials will continue to expand the flight envelope, as well as include some subsystems testing.

The aircraft made its maiden flight on 20 August last year. KAI is developing the T-50 with principal subcontractor Lockheed Martin for service entry with the South Korean air force late in 2005. The air force plans to acquire 94 aircraft, while export customers are being sought for the trainer and the A-50 light attack variant. Series production is due to start later this year.

Meanwhile, KAI has secured orders from Boeing worth around $350 million covering manufacturing work on AH-64 Apache helicopters and commercial aircraft.

KAI will be the sole-source supplier of the Apache fuselage between 2004 and 2010. It will also supply parts for Boeing commercial aircraft, but declines to specify what the work will cover. The deals are part of an industrial offset programme related to last year's selection of the Boeing F-15K Eagle in South Korea's F-X fighter contest.

Source: Flight International