Rivals line up for USAF trainer battle

Rivals line up for USAF trainer battle

Richard Aboulafia, vice-president of analysis at Teal Group, calls the KAI/Lockheed T-50 Golden Eagle the “most capable” option – but also probably the most expensive to buy and operate. Lockheed declines to discuss prices, but Aboulafia estimates the T-50’s flyaway cost will be $26 million per aircraft. Currently built in South Korea and flown by that country’s air force and that of Indonesia, the T-50 was designed specifically to train fifth-generation fighter pilots, Lockheed says. “A student doesn’t need extensive training in the operating squadron to learn high-speed manoeuvring” after flying the type, it adds.

The T-50, which has been in service since the mid-2000s, can reach Mach 1.5 and pull 8g, Lockheed says. The type’s single General Electric F404 engine also has an afterburner. “If the [USAF] has the budget, and they want [pilots] to [transition] easily into an F-22 or F-35, the T-50 is the choice,” says Aboulafia. He estimates the least expensive option, at about $21 million each, is the BAE/Northrop Hawk ­advanced jet training system, which is derived from a aircraft model originally introduced in the 1970s. “If you want to put a pilot in the air and give him good cockpit training at the lowest cost, [the Hawk is] the way to do it,” says Aboulafia.

Tags Korea Aerospace Industries, Lockheed Martin, T-50 Golden Eagle Media Outlet: Flight Global Featured Analyst Richard L. Aboulafia

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