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KAI T-50 Golden Eagle

Advanced trainer

T-50 Golden Eagle

The T-50 Golden Eagle is one of the fastest trainers in the world

Entered service 2005
Crew 2 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 13.14 m
Wing span 9.45 m
Height 4.94 m
Weight (empty) 6.4 t
Weight (maximum take off) 12.3 t
Engines and performance
Engines 1 General Electric F404 turbofan
Traction (dry / with afterburning) 53.07 / 78.7 kN
Maximum speed 1 640 km/h
Service ceiling 14.63 km
Range 1 851 km


   The T-50 Golden Eagle is a light supersonic trainer jet. It was developed by South Korean aircraft company called Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) in cooperation with US-based Lockheed Martin. Its development began in the mid-1990s. Development costs were split 17% by KAI, 13% by Lockheed Martin and 70% by South Korean government. The Golden Eagle made its first flight in 2002. From 2005 this aircraft is in service with Republic of Korea Air Force (49 units). It has been exported to Indonesia (16) and ordered by Iraq and Philippines. As of 2015 a total of 116 units of this aircraft were built in four different variants. Another 96 aircraft of different variants were ordered and should be delivered in the near future. Within the next 30 years KAI and Lockheed Martin plan to sell around 1 000 Golden Eagles and its variants for various customers.

   This trainer aircraft is powered by one General Electric F404 turbofan with afterburner. This engine is manufactured under the General Electric license, by a South Korean company named Samsung Hanwha Techwin. The aircraft has a top speed of 1 640 km/h at 9 km altitude, which makes the Golden Eagle one of the fastest trainers in the world.

   This aircraft is in the same class as trainers like American Boeing / BAE Systems T-45 Goshawk. It is generally agreed that the Golden Eagle is better than Yakovlev Yak-130 or BAE Systems Hawk. However, accordint to Singapore defense officials the price/quality ratio is not in the favor of the Golden Hawk. At a unit costs between $21 million and $30 million, Singapore Ministry of Defense decided to cancel their bid for the Golden Hawk, and decided to purchase Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master instead. According to them, even the BAE Systems Hawk is a more reasonable option that the South Korean aircraft.

   The baseline KAI T-50 evolved into a whole family of military aircraft, all of which can be employed as trainers.




   T-50B is an acrobatic version of the original model. It is used solely by Korea Air Force's aerobatic team, called the Black Eagles. South Korea operates 9 of these aircraft;

   TA-50 lead-in fighter trainer and light attack aircraft. Originally it was named the A-50. Normally the TA-50 is used as trainer, although if required it can be used as light attack aircraft. This aircraft is fitted with a 20-mm 3-barrel rotary cannon. It can carry AIM-120 and AIM-9 air-to-air missiles, AGM-65 air-to-ground missiles, Mk.82 or Mk.83 bombs. It is equipped with a multi-mode fire control radar. South Korea operates 22 of these aircraft. Iraq ordered 24 of these aircraft. Deliveries are planned to begin in 2016;

;   FA-50 lightweight multi-role fighter. This combat-ready version made its maiden flight in 2011. It can also carry weapons similar to those of the TA-50. This aircraft is equipped with one 20 mm General Dynamics A-50 3-barrel rotary cannon. It has 7 hardpoints that can carry a total of 3 740 kg of ordnance. This aircraft is equipped with a multi-mode fire control radar. Some sources report that in some cased the FA-50 is even compatible with KAI KF-16 multi-role fighter. The Republic of Korea adopted this aircraft in 2013 and operates 20 units, while 60 more are on order. It replaces the ageing F-5E/F Tiger II. Philippine Air Force ordered 12 of these aircraft.


T-50 Golden Eagle

T-50 Golden Eagle

T-50 Golden Eagle

T-50 Golden Eagle

T-50 Golden Eagle

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