The Colombian Air Force would have chosen the South Korean light fighter and advanced trainer TA/FA-50 Golden Eagle, manufactured by Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI), as its next advanced training aircraft, according to Infodefensa.
The aircraft is expected to replace aging Cessna A-37B Dragonfly jets, which have been in service with the Air Force for more than 40 years and are due to be withdrawn from service soon, the website explained. The agreement has not yet been confirmed by the Colombian authorities.
The number of aircraft negotiated and the value of the alleged deal were not disclosed, but Colombia would have about 30 A-37Bs in operation.
The approximate price of the Golden Eagle is $21 million on the TA-50 trainer and $30 million on the high attack FA-50.
If the negotiation is indeed confirmed, the Colombian Air Force will be the sixth operator of the KAI aircraft. Currently, the plane in its training and attack versions is in service with the armed forces of South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Iraq and Thailand.
Frustrated sale to Argentina
The supersonic advanced training and light attack aircraft is based on Lockheed Martin’s F-16 fighter, which even participated in the original project, initially conceived for pilot training.
The TA/FA-50 has several components in common with the Fighting Falcon and it is possible to notice their similarity especially in the rear part of the fuselage.
The South Korean jet, however, uses a GE F404 engine made under license by Samsung and which powers the F-16’s rival, Boeing’s F/A-18.
Among its systems are HOTAS-concept fly-by-wire controls, large-width HUD, inertial navigation system and pulse-doppler radar. The FA-50 strike version can carry AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, laser-guided bombs, and has an internal 20mm cannon.
The Golden Eagle was even pre-selected by Argentina to rebuild its air defense squadrons, however, the United Kingdom vetoed the agreement because of the use of Martin-Baker ejection seats, produced in the country.
Since the Falklands War, 40 years ago, the European country has prevented the sale of weapons with British components to Argentines.