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KTX-2 Indigenous Trainer

The KTX-2 Indigenous Trainer program was a three-phase project started in 1990. Its aim was to produce indigenous trainers that can be used as supersonic light fighters by the year 2005. Substantial input into the design was made by General Dynamics (later taken over by Lockheed Martin) under the offset agreement negotiated for the F-16 contract.

The project was suspended at the end of 1995, shortly after the first design phase concluded when the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MFE) declared that it could no longer invest any further funds in the program, which would require a total of 1.3 trillion won. The primary contractor, Samsung Aerospace, was teamed with Lockheed-Martin as a partner. The KTX-2 program was originally planned to start as soon as the assembly of the F-16s was completed.

As the Korean Aerospace industry could not design and produce critical composite materials, precision components, and avionics, the ROKG decided to target the following in order to develop near self-sufficiency in aircraft development through the KTX-II project:

  • Manufacturing/Production technology: up to 95 percent
  • Test/Evaluation technology: 80 percent
  • Designing and development technology: 70 percent.

In addition, the government decided to cover 70 percent of total development costs for the KTX-II program under the budget prepared by the Ministry of National Defense (MND). Eventually, Lockheed Martin took the decision to upgrade its existing involvement from that of design consultant to full partner. On 3 July 1997, the South Korean government approved continuation of the project.

The concept for the KTX-2 was developed through joint studies by engineers from Samsung Aerospace and Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems in Fort Worth under guidance of the ROKAF. A robust survey of international requirements for affordable advanced jet trainer and light combat aircraft in coming years led to the formation of a Samsung Aerospace and Lockheed Martin Joint Marketing Team (JMT) in the fall of 1998 to develop a worldwide market for the KTX-2. Under the joint arrangement, Samsung Aerospace had the responsibility to further develop KTX-2 business indigenously and to collaborate with the Republic of Korea government to include KTX-2 in agendas for its defense and industrial planning discussions with foreign governments. Lockheed Martin's responsibility was to work with the U.S. government to develop potential U.S. requirements for the KTX-2 and to gain approvals for third countries' sales.

The Preliminary Design Review (PDR) was successfully completed for the KTX-2 Advanced Supersonic Jet Trainer/Light Combat Aircraft in 1999. The review, held July 12-16 at Samsung Aerospace in Sachon, Korea, provided the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) with an in-depth review of the readiness of the KTX-2 program to begin detail design. Based on the successful outcome of the PDR, formal drawing release was scheduled to begin in September 1999. ROKAF and other government officials attended a series of group and individual meetings during the week-long event. The KTX-2 design team includes Samsung Aerospace, Daewoo Heavy Industries, Korean Air and Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems.

The KTX-2 program had been designated a national priority program to provide the Republic of Korea with self-reliant air power, and to enhance the country's technological advancement through the development of a mature aerospace industry. With the KTX-2 full-scale development program on schedule, the aircraft would enter a rigorous flight test program in June 2002. The Republic of Korea Air Force has committed to purchase about 100 KTX-2s to serve as an advanced jet trainer and fighter lead-in trainer. The first KTX-2 production aircraft is scheduled for delivery to the ROKAF beginning in late 2003. Plans call for additional KTX-2 aircraft to be delivered subsequently in a light-combat variant.

In February 2000 it was announced that the KTX-2 had been renamed the T-50/A-50 Golden Eagle. The T-50 Golden Eagle designation being applied to an Advanced Jet Training variant, and A-50 Golden Eagle to an armed Light Attack/Fighter Lead In Trainer variant.




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