Egypt aims for local production of South Korean trainer aircraft

T-50 Golden Eagle
The T-50 Golden Eagle is a family of advanced trainers and light combat aircraft developed by Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) with Lockheed Martin. The aircraft is operated by the Republic of Korea and the Philippines. (Joetey Attariwala)

Egypt’s state-owned Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) announced on 16 January that it has signed an agreement with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) for local production of the latter’s T-50/FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) aircraft.

The aircraft will be built at the AOI Aircraft Factory in Helwan – which previously licence-produced and manufactured aircraft for the Egyptian Air Force (EAF), including the Chinese-designed Hongdu K-8E jet trainer, Helwan HA-200 Al Kahirah subsonic trainer, and Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet – and continues to provide support for the ageing aircraft today.

AOI noted in its statement that top company officials, including chairman Mokhtar Abdel-Latif, had concluded discussions with a South Korean delegation that included their counterparts from KAI and Hanwha Aerospace as well as members of parliament.

At the core of negotiations was the implementation of the AOI’s agreement with KAI aimed at technology transfer and localisation of manufacturing for advanced jet trainers to meet EAF requirements, along with prospects for exports to African and Arab countries.

South Korean media earlier reported that Egypt’s requirement for a new jet trainer could potentially be as large as 100 aircraft and that the T-50/FA-50 was well positioned against competing designs such as the Hongdu L-15 and Italian M-346 given its commonality with the EAF’s F-16 combat aircraft.

The T-50 Golden Eagle is a single-engine, supersonic aircraft developed by KAI for the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) with technical assistance from Lockheed Martin, with an eye on emerging international requirements for affordable LIFT and light-attack aircraft.

More than 200 T-50/FA-50s are currently in operation worldwide, including Asia Pacific countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand. Elsewhere, Poland became the latest country to sign for the type with a US$3 billion order for up to 48 FA-50PL light attack aircraft. Deliveries are expected to commence from mid-2023.

South Korean media also suggested that Egypt could be a potential customer for the KAI KF-21 Boramae advanced multirole fighter, which is currently in advanced stages of development and undergoing flight testing.

by Jr Ng