The Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin T-50 Golden Eagle lead-in fighter trainer is now undertaking taxi trials, with its maiden flight scheduled for early August.

Earlier this year, first flight had been talked about for June. Speaking at a briefing on the project yesterday, Robie Notestine, senior marketing director for T-50 International, said there had been "nothing significant or surprising" that had caused the move to August.

The aircraft is due to undertake high-speed taxiing trials from 1 August. The second prototype is due to fly in mid-November and the third and fourth in August 2003.

South Korea has ordered 94 of the type and has options on 100 more. Notestine sees a potential export market for the type of 600-plus over the next 20-25 years.

Notestine says that talks have been held with "a couple of companies" on the possibility of developing and integrating a ‘virtual radar' for the aircraft, for customers who might not want the expense of fitting the planned APG-67 set: "We don't think it duplicates entirely what a real fire control radar can do, but we think it's an alternative."

Asked about rumours that the EJ200, which powers the Eurofighter Typhoon, might supplant the GE F404-102 in later batches of the Korean/US design, Notestine says: "We plan to stick with F404 in the near term."

Source: Flight Daily News