Thailand buys additional KAI T-50TH trainer/light combat aircraft

Thailand buys additional KAI T50
Royal Thai Air Force T-50TH trainer/light combat aircraft.

South Korean media recently reported that Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and the Thai government have reached an agreement on a new batch of T-50TH Golden Eagle trainer/light combat jets. It foresees the procurement by Thailand of two additional T-50TH aircraft plus additional equipment. The deal had been in talks for some time, but had been delayed due to Covid.

Thailand has previously ordered 12 KAI T-50TH aircraft for which it awarded KAI an upgrade program in May 2019. The scope of the upgrade and modification program sees the current and future Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) fleet equipped with a fire control radar, radar warning receivers, and chaff/flare countermeasure dispenser systems.

In September 2015, the Thai government selected a KAI T-50 variant, called T-50TH, over the Chinese Hongdu L-15 to replace the RTAF’s fleet of 40 Aero Vodochody L-39ZA/ART Albatros for the training and combat roles. Delivery of the 4 T-50TH aircraft was completed in March 2018. In July 2017, the Thai government approved the purchase of an additional 8 aircraft with deliveries starting in January 2018.

The RTAF currently uses the T-50TH as a LIFT trainer to train pilots for Lockheed Martin F-16A/B MLU and Saab Gripen C/D fighters. Thanks to the ongoing upgrade, the aircraft will later also cover the light attack role.

The KAI T-50 Golden Eagle is a family of South Korean advanced supersonic jet trainers and light fighter aircraft developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) with Lockheed Martin. The T-50 is South Korea's first indigenous supersonic aircraft and one of the few supersonic trainers in the world. Development began in the late 1990s and its first flight took place in 2002. The aircraft entered active service with the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) in 2005.

The T-50 was further developed in aerobatic and combat variants, namely T-50B, TA-50 and FA-50. It was selected from South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Iraq and Thailand. Potential future users include CanadaUnited States, Malaysia, Botswana, Colombia and Peru.

Written by Matteo Sanzani

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