Israel mulls buying South Korean fighter jets for training

By Xinhua,

Jerusalem : The Israeli Air Force is planning to purchase South Korea’s T-50 Golden Eagle fighter jets in a bid to replace its ageing Skyhawk fleet, the Ha’aretz daily reported Sunday.

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A three-member delegation of the Israeli Air Force is expected to visit Seoul next week to discuss the matter with their South Korean counterparts.

This is the first time in 40 years that Israel is considering to purchase fighter jets outside the US.

The report added that Israel is planning to purchase at least 30 jets to be used in the combat training exercises of trainee pilots.

The T-50, produced by Korean Airspace in collaboration with the US company Lockheed Martin, took its maiden flight in 2002. South Korean has been using this light jet for training purposes.

Israel is also considering two other jets for the purchase – the T-45, an American model of the British Hawk training aircraft, and the M-346, produced by the Italian firm Alenia Aermacchi. However, the South Korean jet appears to be in the lead, as its performance matches the F-16 fighter jets, the report said.

The Skyhawk first arrived in Israel in 1968, marking the induction of US-made jets into the Israeli Air force.