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Debut of First Korea-Made Supersonic Aircraft

Posted November. 01, 2001 08:59,   


South Korea manufactured its first supersonic aircraft. The ROK Air Force and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) announced on yesterday that the advanced trainer and light attack aircraft, the T-50/A-50 (nickname Golden Eagle) was released from their Sacheon First Plant, Kyungnam Province.

The aircraft, solely designed and manufactured by the KAI that had employed the technology related to advanced training aircraft manufacturing from Lockheed Martin of the U.S. as a consideration (cross trade) for the introduction of F-16, is an advanced trainer designed for training pilots to fly next-generation fighter aircrafts such as the F-15, F-22 and Rafale. The aircraft weighs 12,000 kg at its maximum and flies at the maximum speed of Mach 1.5.

President Kim Dae-Jung said in his ceremonial speech yesterday, ``The country`s own satellite launcher and launching facility will be ready by 2005, and the localization of the next-generation fighter aircraft and the communication satellite will be promoted.``

President Kim continued, ``Over one million dollar worth of the single model of T-50 will be exported by 2010, and as a result, 20,000 people per year will be employed. And the expense for introducing foreign-brand training planes will be cut by 2 billion dollars.``

Only about 10 countries in the world are able to develop supersonic airplanes.

the KAI said. ``Korea has joined the ranks of advanced countries in the field of aviation both nominally and virtually as a result of sole development of the supersonic aircraft.``

T-50, which will be mass-produced from 2003 after a test flight, has been developed with the aim not only of the domestic market but also of the export market. Ten percent of development costs reaching up to 2 trillion won were invested directly by Lockheed Martin, and the export squad offices are jointly administrated in Seoul and Texas by the KAI and Lockheed Martin.

The KAI forecasted that it would export 800 planes (a 25 percent share of the overseas advanced air-trainer market) worth 30 billion dollars by 2030. Currently, the company is carrying on export negotiations with Israel, Turkey, Greece, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.