Indonesia to buy additional KAI T-50i jet trainer and light attack aircraft

Indonesia signed a contract to buy 6 additional T-50i jet trainers made by Korea Aerospace Industries. KAI on July 20 announced that sale, listing a contract value of $240 million. This would bring Indonesia’s fleet of T-50i advanced trainers to 20 aircraft, with 16 acquired in 2012 to replace its older BAE Systems Hawk 53 trainers dating from the 1980s that are currently operating in the advanced and lead-in fighter training role.

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Indonesia to buy additional KAI T 50i jet trainer and light attack aircraft

RoKAF T-50 Golden Eagle pictured in 2017 (Picture source: Republic of Korea Armed Forces)

Indonesia previously ordered 16 T-50i aircraft in May 2011 at a cost of $400 million to replace its fleet of British-made Hawk Mk 53s in the advanced training role. Deliveries of the T-50s to Indonesia ran from September 2013 through February 2014, though one trainer crashed on December 20, 2015, reducing the total to 15 in the fleet. These 15 units were equipped with guns and radars under a follow-on agreement inked in 2018.

Although KAI announced on July 20 that it had clinched the KRW274.5 billion ($238 million) contract for the six aircraft, the actual agreement only becomes activated on initial payment is put down. That payment is expected later this year and will be drawn from Indonesia's 2022 defense budget. In the meantime, the Indonesian MoD is looking for a foreign lender to provide funding to meet the remaining balance payment. The negotiated agreement period stretches from December 2021 into October 2024. Once all six units are delivered the Indonesian Air Force will field a total of 21 T-50i aircraft.

The KAI T-50 Golden Eagle is a family of South Korean supersonic advanced jet trainers and light combat 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 world's few supersonic trainers. Development began in the late 1990s, and its maiden flight occurred in 2002. The aircraft entered active service with the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) in 2005.

The T-50 has been further developed into aerobatic and combat variants, namely T-50B, TA-50, and FA-50. The F-50 single-seat multirole fighter variant was considered. The T-50B serves with the South Korean air force's aerobatics team. The TA-50 light attack variant has been ordered by Indonesia, hence its designation of T-50i. The Philippines ordered 12 units of the FA-50 light fighter variant. The T-50A was marketed as a candidate for the U.S. Air Force's next-generation T-X trainer program but failed to win. Thailand ordered 12 units of the T-50 advanced trainer variant.