Thailand celebrates induction of T-50TH

A second US $260 million order for eight more T-50THs was signed in July 2017. These new aircraft are expected to be delivered by 2020, and Thailand still has an outstanding requirement for four further T-50s.

The Royal Thai Air Force has completed the induction of its first four KAI T-50TH Golden Eagle supersonic trainers with 401 Squadron, based at Takhli. 

A formal induction ceremony was held at the Takhli Air Force Base, 240 kilometres northwest of Bangkok. It was attended by the Royal Thai Air Force commander Johm Rungswang, as well as Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) president Kim Jo-won and South Korea’s Ambassador to Thailand Noh Kwang-il.

The original $110 million contract for four aircraft was signed in 2015, and the first pair of T-50THs were delivered on January 25 this year. The aircraft suffered some engine damage during the ferry flight from South Korea due to inclement weather over the South China Sea. This resulted in a two-week delay. The second pair were delivered on board a Korean Air Cargo Boeing 747F freighter.

The T-50TH has some features of the FA-50 combat version, “but missing some capability elements”, including Link 16 tactical datalinks. The aircraft does incorporate an embedded tactical training simulation (ETTS) system, which allows ‘synthetic’ targets to be generated, and which allows a student pilot to simulate the launch of AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles.

KAI expects the successful debut of the T-50 in Thailand to stimulate further export orders in the region.

The T-50THs will replace the RTAF’s ageing Aero L-39ZA/ART Albatros trainers in the advanced and lead-in fighter training roles, preparing pilots for the Lockheed Martin F-16A/B Fighting Falcon and Saab JAS 39C/D Gripen.

by Jon Lake