Bulgaria considering KAI’s T-50 Trainer

Bulgaria is considering introducing the advanced supersonic trainer T-5 of Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) to strengthen its defense readiness. The country is also considering building a local assembly facility for technology transfer from KAI.

According to industry sources and media outlets on Oct. 15, Krasimir Karakachanov, deputy prime minister and defense minister of Bulgaria, said in an interview with local media outlets that the Bulgarian government is considering introducing the supersonic T-50 Golden Eagle jointly produced by KAI and Lockheed Martin. He added the Bulgarian government is also considering building a T-50 assembly plant, going beyond simply purchasing the trainers.

This means that Bulgaria intends to acquire technology from KAI by producing the trainers locally.

In recent years, Bulgaria has been stepping up efforts to beef up its security and defense capabilities. In this context, the Bulgarian government made a decision to purchase eight units of the F-16 Block 70/72 Fighters from Lockheed Martin last year.

KAI developed the T-50 Trainer with U.S. Lockheed Martin from 1997-2006 with an investment of 2 trillion won. This helped the Bulgarian government select the trainer. The T-50 is 13.14 meters long, 9.45 meters wide and 4.94 meters tall and weighs 6.3 ton, which is 77 percent of the F-16 weight. It runs on the F404-GE-102 engine, which is used for the U.S. FA-18 model.

The T-50 features a high speed of Mach 1.5, a rare speed for a trainer and the latest digital flight system. Accordingly, the F-50 is evaluated suitable for so-called fifth-generation fighters such as the F-35 and the F-22. It has a maximum flying range of 2,592 kilometers and a maximum flight altitude of 16 kilometers.