Indonesia and Thailand to Buy Korean T-50 Jet Trainer Aircraft

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) and the Indonesian Ministry of Defense both indicated they will be seeking to add additional T-50TH and T-50i Golden Eagle lead-in fighter trainers (LIFT) respectively to their existing fleets.

The RTAF is seeking to purchase an additional two from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), bringing their fleet to 14 jets. The proposed procurement would have a budget of $72 million that will cover spare parts and supplementary equipment and tools. Analysts expect the contract to be signed sometime later this year.

Indonesia’s MOD, on the other hand, set out to find foreign lenders to finance an acquisition of an additional six of the T-50i variant, which it will be adding to its original fleet of 16 it acquired back in 2011. The country’s finance ministry, after consulting with the MOD and Ministry of National Development Planning (BAPPENAS), approved the move to seek a foreign loan with an upper limit of $240 million.

Indonesian version of the Golden Eagle T-50i (image courtesy of Korean Aerospace Industries)

KAI revealed in a financial report to regulators that it had “secured a contract” for the supply of the jets to the Indonesian Air Force. Indonesia’s MOD, however, described said contract as more of a preamble that would only be in effect after they secure funding for the procurement, while other sources told media the initial payment would be secured through an early allocation from the country’s 2022 defense budget paid out by the end of 2021, while loans would finance the rest of the contract.

Thailand’s procurement on the other hand will be entirely funded through the country’s 2022 defense budget after having been delayed by budget constraints caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The order was also reduced from four to two aircraft due to these economic factors. This will be the RTAF’s fourth and final phase of its T-50TH program, having ordered a batch of four in 2015 and a batch of 8 in 2017 for a combined cost of around $380 million.