Thailand has signed a contract worth $110m with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to deliver four advanced and tactical T-50TH trainer jets to the Royal Thai Air Force.
Under this contract, KAI is responsible for delivering the aircraft to Thailand within 30 months.
The new aircraft is expected to replace the Thai Air Force’s old and aging L-39 advanced trainers and the tactically introductory jets. The Thai Air Force has been using Czechoslovakian-built L39 jets for more than 30 years.
In 2014, the Thailand Government approved THB3.7bn ($103m) for the replacement programme.
The new T-50TH will be equipped with high training and tactically introductory capabilities as a single platform and it will also be capable of meeting the requirement of a light attack function.
According to KAI, the latest development is expected to serve as a chance for the company and the Thailand Air Force to establish a long-term partnership agreement.
With this sale, KAI is expected to achieve its goal of KRW3trn ($2.55bn) in sales this year.
KAI president and CEO Ha Sung-yong said: "We will convert an aviation industry whose trade deficit is big into the export industry to tug the entry into an aviation advanced nation.
"Given exports are a shortcut which makes the products of our local suppliers and the Korean infra-structure’s base strong, we will contribute to creating jobs for young people."
The company is also expecting that this deal will support KAI’s bid to the US Air Force’s advanced trainer jet project, dubbed as T-X.
Estimated at $10bn, the project will cover the delivery of 350 advanced trainer jets, ground training equipment and follow-up support.
In March, South Korea selected KAI as the preferred bidder for the country’s domestic fighter jet development programme.
The Korean Fighter Experimental (KF-X) project is valued at KRW8.5trn ($7.64bn). It covers domestic development and production of approximately 120 fighter jets of the F-16 class.
Image: The contract signing ceremony. Photo: courtesy of Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd.