Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Indonesia Orders 16 T-50 Jet Trainers

An official with the Indonesian Defense Ministry signed a contract for the purchase of 16 of Korea's T-50 supersonic trainer jets with his Korean counterpart in Jakarta on Wednesday, a spokesman for Korea Aerospace Industries said. The jets, worth US$400 million, will be delivered by 2013.

It is the first sale of the trainer jets overseas. Korea is the sixth country to export supersonic aircraft after the U.S., Russia, the U.K., France, and Sweden.

The contract was signed some 50 days after Indonesia selected Korea as the priority negotiation partner in April, an unusually swift deal in the international arms market, where negotiations normally take at least several months.

South Korea signed a contract Wednesday to export its T-50 trainer jets to Indonesia, a government official said, a deal that will mark the first time for the country to export supersonic jets.

The state-run aircraft maker Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) signed the deal in Jakarta with Indonesia's defense ministry, the official told Yonhap News Agency by phone. The deal calls for exporting 16 T-50 jets for about US$400 million, sources said.

The contract will take effect as soon as Indonesia's finance ministry and South Korea's Export-Import Bank conclude financial negotiations, the official said. Delivery is expected in 2013, he said.

Wednesday's signing came about a month after KAI was selected as the preferred bidder for Indonesia's trainer jet project on April 12. Since then, the two sides have negotiated on terms of a contract.

The contract marks South Korea's first export of the T-50 "Golden Eagle." It is expected to have positive effects on the country's efforts to export the aircraft to other nations, such as Israel, the United States, Poland, India and the United Arab Emirates.

South Korea first unveiled the T-50 in 2005 after KAI developed the supersonic jet jointly with U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin, making the country the world's 12th supersonic jet producer.

Seoul has tried to export the jet to Indonesia as Jakarta plans to replace its aging Hawk Mk-53 trainer jets that are scheduled to be decommissioned this year.

Indonesian media had reported earlier this year that the country's air force will purchase 16 T-50 jets.

In December, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited Indonesia and agreed with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to cooperate closely in such defense industries as trainer jets and submarine production.

In March, Indonesian Air Force Commander Marshall Imam Syafaat made a three-day trip to South Korea that included a tour of plants that build the trainer jets.

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