The USAF plan to lease four to eight KAI T-50A advanced jet trainers has been postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the US.
The US Air Force (USAF) plan to lease four to eight Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) T-50A advanced jet trainers has been postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the US, industry sources said on Oct. 6, 2020.
According to The Korea Herald, the USAF is currently reviewing a plan to rent T-50A jets until its new Boeing T-7A Red Hawk (redesignated as the eT-7A on Sep. 14 after the Air Force announced that any weapon made using digital concepts will have an “e-” prefix in an effort to showcase these innovative processes) enters operational service. The service aims to rent the aircraft from Hillwood Aviation after the US-based contractor purchases the aircraft from KAI, South Korean aerospace and defense company announced on Mar. 23.
The USAF first pushed back the announcement of the plan to August and now the service delayed the announcement again after having set it for this month.
“It seems the US Air Force is having difficulties in securing enough budget as the US is diverting some of its defense budget to the health care budget due to the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak,” the industry source pointed out.
As we have previously explained the USAF Air Combat Command (ACC) plans to lease T-50As to help its aviators develop relevant tactical skills before they begin their formal training with the Boeing T-7A Red Hawk.
The ACC said last March that the T-50A jet trainers will provide approximately 3,000 sorties (4,500 flight hours) annually for four years and 364 days.
The T-50A was the T-7A’s top competitor for the T-X program contest won by Boeing in September 2018. The first T-7As are expected to arrive in 2023.
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin