Turkey set to complete Korea trainer plane program

Turkey set to complete Korea trainer plane program

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey set to complete Korea trainer plane program

This file photo shows a KT-1T trainer plane built by Turkey and Korea.

Turkey is set to complete a 40-plane basic trainer program with South Korea on Oct. 8 as there are no major delays anticipated for the program, officials from both sides have said.

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), the leading respective aerospace companies of the two countries, will deliver their latest jointly built basic trainer, the KT-1T, to the Turkish Air Force, officials close to the program said.

The Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, Turkey’s defense procurement agency, and KAI signed a $350 million contract in 2007 for 40 KT-1Ts for the Air Force. A ceremony will be held on Oct. 8, with the participation of the KAI president, for the delivery of the last KT-1Ts to the Turkish Air Force.

Five of the initial aircraft were built at the KAI plant in South Korea while the remainder was jointly manufactured at the TAI plant near in Turkey. The KT-1T is a turboprop aircraft.

Separately, TAI is working on the Hürkuş, Turkey’s first domestically designed trainer aircraft.

Defense officials said no follow-up program for the KT-1T was planned at this point, although KAI has produced the supersonic T-50, a more advanced trainer. The KT-1T is the Turkish version of KAI’s KT-1 Woongbi, developed for South Korea, but it includes modifications required by the Turkish Air Force. KAI won the contract against several rivals, including U.S. company Raytheon and Brazil’s Embraer. The KT-1Ts will replace the aging U.S.-made T-37 trainer planes.

Close ties between Turkey and South Korea date back to the Korean War of the early 1950s, when a Turkish contingent of up to 15,000 soldiers, under the United Nations flag, fought against North Korean and Chinese troops.

Despite the traditionally strong political ties, the two countries only began to develop close economic and trade relations in the past 10 years. In the defense arena, Turkey is building howitzers under a South Korean license, and a company from the country is providing technical assistance for Turkey’s efforts to design, develop and manufacture its first main battle tank. TAI and KAI are also considering the development of a fighter aircraft after 2020.