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S. Korea seeks to build T-50 jet training center in Portugal

All Headlines 09:42 February 11, 2012

SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is seeking to build a pilot training center in Portugal that will be equipped with the Korean Aerospace Industries' T-50 supersonic military jet trainer, a government source said Saturday.

The defense ministry source, who declined to be identified, said Portugal was tapped as the primary negotiation partner for the International Military Flight Training Center Consortium (IMFACC) last year. He said final negotiations are underway to sort out details that may lead to a memorandum of understanding being reached as early as next month.

The IMFACC plan calls for South Korea to inject 300 billion won (US$267 million) over 30 years to set up a jet pilot training facility. The center will be manned by South Korean military instructors who will be tasked with training foreign pilots for a fee on the T-50 Golden Eagle.

The supersonic T-50 Golden Eagle trainer is already in service with the South Korean Air Force.

Seoul had been examining candidate sites for IMFACC in the United States, the Philippines and Spain since 2009 as part of its program to attract international interest in the T-50.

At present Indonesia has placed an order for the T-50, so it can be used as an advanced trainer for its air force pilots.

If a IMFACC facility is built, South Korea can help foreign countries train pilots on a very advanced jet trainer at affordable costs, and could also promote the T-50 in the Europe.

In addition, the facility can be used by South Korea pilots who will not be affected by flight time restrictions imposed at home due to complaints lodged by the public. This can cut the time and expense of training pilots and bolster the country's national defense.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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