Indonesia deploys 16 S. Korean T-50 Golden Eagle fighter jets

Source:Xinhua Published: 2014-2-13 23:32:14

Indonesian Air Force on Thursday officially commenced the operation of 16, or a squadron of, T-50 Golden Eagle advanced trainer/light attack fighter jets following completion of delivery of the planes from South Korea last month.

The fighter jets were handed over by Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro to senior officers who represent the military headquarters and the Air Force, and the handover ceremony was witnessed by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the Halim Perdanakusumah airbase here.

"The commissioning of T-50 fighter jets would improve our military's capability in addressing more complex challenges in the future," the minister said in his remarks at the ceremony on Thursday. He added that in the future Indonesia is expected to operate 24 such planes in its Air Force fleet.

After the handover ceremony, a demonstration flight involving the T-50 Golden Eagle and Sukhoi Su-30 was held at the base.

The Golden Eagle fighter jets were delivered in batches to Indonesia since September last year. With the commissioning of the planes, Indonesia becomes the first country to operate T-50 Golden Eagle except South Korea.

The advanced trainer/light attack fighter jets would be deployed at the Iswahyudi airbase in Madiun, East Java. They will replace the BAE Hawk Mk 53 trainer planes and OV-10 Bronco anti insurgency planes which have previously been decommissioned for their long time of services.

Indonesia signed the contract to acquire one squadron of Golden Eagle fighter jets with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) in May 2011, worth 400 million US dollars. In Indonesian version, the Golden Eagle fleet is code named T-50i.

The 4.5 generation fighter jet was finally picked by the government after it considered several options including Russia's Yak-130, Czech's L-159, Aermacchi M-346 from Italy and Guizhou JL- 9 from China.

T-50 Golden Eagle fighter jet is incorporated with General Electric F404 jet engines that provide 17,000 pounds of after burner thrust power. It has pylons capable of carrying 14 tons of ordnance, fitted with barrel guns for light attack operations.

Halim Perdanakusumah airbase Spokesperson Hadi Tjahjanto said that Indonesia had sent four fighter pilots to undertake training programs to fly the Golden Eagle fighter jets in South Korea.

He added that those trained Indonesian pilots would be assigned to become instructors for their peers in the country.

Indonesia is the biggest Southeast Asian buyer for South Korea's defense industry, buying Korean-made submarines and trainer jets.

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