Korea's T-50 supersonic jet trainer, dubbed the Golden Eagle, is among the final candidates for the Israeli Air Force's acquisition of a next-generation jet trainer, the Jerusalem Post reported Friday. It said the T-50 is in fierce competition with Italy's M-346.
Israel wants to replace the current Douglas A-4 Skyhawks in a joint venture between state-run Israel Aerospace Industries and military electronic systems company Elbit. Representative of Korea Aerospace Industries, the maker of the T-50, and Italy's Alenia Aermacchi recently visited Israel to discuss the deal.
Tel Aviv has not commented on the likely winner, but the local media predict the T-50 has the edge. With closer relations between North Korea and Iran -- North Korea recently sold ballistic missile and transferred missile making technology to Iran -- Israel feels the need to strengthen military cooperation with South Korea.
If Israel buys the T-50, there is a greater chance of a two-way deal whereby Israel would sell its “Iron Dome” short-range missile defense system to South Korea, UPI reported.