He was responding to a news report on Monday by Yonhap news agency that Korea Aerospace Industries Co (KAI), South Korea’s sole aircraft manufacturer, said it has a US$78 million (B2.5 billion) deal to supply trainer jets to Thailand.
Under the deal, KAI will supply two T-50TH advanced trainer jets to the Thai air force by November 2023, said the report, citing the company’s regulatory filing.
The first two T-50TH advanced trainer jets arrived in Thailand on Jan 21, 2018 while another two jets arrived later in March the same year, said the source.
Eight more jets were delivered on various occasions in 2019, said the source.
The other two jets were purchased with a budget allotted to the air force in the fiscal year 2021 and are expected to arrive in Thailand in November 2023. It remains uncertain whether two more jets will be next purchased to make it a full fleet of 16 jets or not. Defence spending has come under scrutiny since the COVID pandemic started.
An air force source said 14 such jets are enough. These new trainer jets, which can also double as fighter jets, are to replace the L-39 ZA/ART aircraft, said the source.
KAI has achieved $400mn worth of deals to supply 16 T-50 trainer jets to date, said the Yonhap report. KAI has exported 156 trainer jets worth US$3.1bn - 72 T-50 advanced trainer jets worth US$2.6bn and 84 KT-1 basic trainer jets worth US$700mn - to countries including Indonesia, Turkey, and the Philippines since its foundation in 1999, said the report.