S. Korea seeks to build T-50 jet training center in Portugal
South Korea is seeking to build a pilot training center in Portugal that will be equipped with the Korean Aerospace Industries’ T-50 supersonic military jet trainer, a government source said Saturday.
The defense ministry source, who declined to be identified, said Portugal was tapped as the primary negotiation partner for the International Military Flight Training Center Consortium last year. He said final negotiations are underway to sort out details that may lead to a memorandum of understanding being reached as early as next month.
The IMFACC plan calls for South Korea to inject 300 billion won ($267 million) over 30 years to set up a jet pilot training facility. The center will be manned by South Korean military instructors who will be tasked with training foreign pilots on the KAI aircraft.
The mach 1.5-capable T-50 Golden Eagle is already in service with the South Korean Air Force and is a trainer with flight characteristics on par with many of today’s frontline fighters and attack aircraft.
Seoul had been examining candidate sites for an IMFACC in the United States, Australia, the Philippines and Spain since 2009, as part of its program to attract international interest in the South Korean jet.
At present Indonesia has placed an order for the T-50, and plans to use it as an advanced trainer for its air force pilots.
If an IMFACC facility is built, South Korea can help foreign countries train pilots on the very advanced jet trainer at affordable costs, and could also promote the T-50 in the Europe.
Local military insiders said that there has been a growing trend, particularly among smaller countries, to send military pilots abroad for training.