The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) is getting rid of its twenty year old British Aerospace Hawk Mk67 aircraft, as ten of them showed up on the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) register last week. The aircraft are reportedly owned by AirUSA in Nevada. The ROKAF is replacing these Hawks with indigenous developed and built T-50 Golden Hawk aircraft. AIRheads↑FLY visited South Korea years ago, the faboulous dish of kimchi being our main target. Oh, and we saw some of those Hawks as well.
Not only did the Koreans say goodbye to the Hawks, they did the very same to the thirty Northrop T-38A Talons that were leased from the US. In South Korea, these trainers also used Yecheon as their homebase. Over the last few years, the Talons returned stateside, where they returned flying in USAF service. Most of them are now operating from Holloman AFB, NM.
And what replaces both the Hawks and Talons is the Korea Aircraft Industries (KAI) T-50; a state of the art two-seater that is capable of supersonic speeds. The T-50 is flying in substantial numbers in South Korea now, and recently the first aircraft were delivered to Indonesia.
The first two T-50 Golden Hawks for the Indonesian air force (TNI-AU) arrived in Indonesia today, two years after an agreement for 16 aircraft was signed with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). The aircraft left for Indonesia after leaving Seochan airfield, home of KAI and birthplace of the T-50 Golden Hawk.
The contract for 16 T-50i aircraft – as the Indonesian version of the Golden Hawk is officially designated – is worth 400 million USD. The supersonic trainers are to replace the BAe Hawk Mk53s that are now in service with the TNI-AU.
The ferry flight from South Korea to Indonesia took about seven hours to complete. Click here for an air to air shot of the T-50s escorted by a Hawk. All 16 aircraft will be delivered during the coming months, in a total of eight ferry flights.
The South Korean T-50, that very much resembles a scaled down F-16, first flew in August 2002. The Republic of South Korea Air Force (ROKAF) operates a substantial nuber of T-50s. The type is also used by ROKAFs display team, the Black Eagles.
Other countries have expressed interest in the Golden Hawk. Among those countries is the Philippines.
Last weekend, AIRheads↑FLY took the Autobahn to Bremen, traveled a bit more through some German woods, came across some villages and finally ended up in a large place with lots of helicopters. That place is Fassberg, home of Transporthubschrauberregiment 10, flying NH Industries NH90 helicopters and good ol’ Bell Hueys. And what coincidence, at September 7th Fassberg was home to the Aerospace Day 2013.
As reported this week, the F-35A Lightning II has taken the final hurdle in the Netherlands. That leaves a few companies with empty hands, although it has to be said that Saab, Dassault and Eurofighter GmbH did just about everything they could. It’s however no major surprise that the F-35A will after all replace the Dutch F-16 in a few years time. Saab, Dassault, and Eurofighter GmbH were essentially the losers from the word ‘go’, as the Dutch MoD basically had only thing in mind. Here goes a tribute to losers!
In 2001, Rafale, Gripen and Eurofighter went head to head at the Leeuwarden airshow in the Netherlands. The JSF – as the F-35 was known as back then – was nowhere to been seen, since the prototype X-35 only flew first in October 2000.
In the years that followed, all three competitors started appearing in European skies more and more, while the F-35 only really started testing in late 2006.
As production mounted, Saab, Dassault and Eurofighter started looking for export customers for their hardware in the hope that sells would really take off. All types saw action in the 2011 Libya war. Meanwhile, testing of the F-35 continues in the US. Some time between August 2016 and December 2016, the first USAF F-35 squadron will reach Initial Operational Capability.
Show off In recent years, Gripens, Rafales and Eurofighters were steady performers at airshows worldwide. It is unclear when the first F-35 will be seen outside the United States.
The final loser There is however one more loser in the well over a decade long debate about a Dutch F-16 replacement. It’s the F-35A Lightning II that in some years time will touch down on Dutch soil, but will have to do its very best to win the hearts and trust of Dutch taxpayers. Plus, we at AIRheads↑FLY simply think its not the sexiest thing in the sky. Go Rafale!
A Dutch order for F-35 aircraft seems only a matter of time now that the leftist PvdA party dropped its opposition against the fighter, according to Dutch media. There now is sufficient support in Dutch parliament to proceed with the order of 35 F-35s – or JSF, as the aircraft is still often called in the Netherlands.
The move by PvdA ends more than a decade of discussion about the replacement of Dutch F-16 fighter aircraft by the F-35. According to sources in The Hague, the Dutch government -made up by PvdA and right-wing VVD – will finally decide on the order later in September.
The Dutch already took delivery of two F-35 aircraft earlier for test purposes. Despite those deliveries, an order for further F-35s remained subject of heated discussion that mostly focused on costs. One F-35 costs at least 65 million Euro, where 40 million Euro was originally planned. The total budget for the order is 4.5 billion Euro.
Dutch government will present its 2014-plans in two weeks time. A further reduction of available F-16s is on the cards. The two F-35 already delivered – with serial F-001 and F-002 – are still in the United States and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Real testing should start only in 2015.
Read our blog on Dutch F-16s and their flying hours here.