Iraq signs $1.1bn deal to buy S. Korean fighters

December 12, 2013 - 11:48:34 am

SEOUL: Iraq signed a $1.1 billion deal Thursday to buy 24 multi-role light fighters from South Korea, officials said, in what will be the Asian nation's biggest arms export.

The Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) said it would deliver the T-50IQ, a variant of its T-50 supersonic aircraft, to Baghdad between 2015 and 2016, under the terms of the deal signed in Seoul.

The firm also said it expected to sign an additional $1.0 billion deal in 2014 to provide parts, equipment and pilot training for 20 years.

The T-50IQ is an advanced multi-role fighter that is equipped with precision-guided weapons, missiles and machine guns.

"It's the biggest order in the history of South Korea's arms exports," a KAI spokesman told AFP.

The T-50 is South Korea's first home-built supersonic aircraft and one of the world's few supersonic trainers. 

After its maiden flight in 2002, the aircraft entered active service in 2005.

The trainer has been developed into combat and multi-role variants.

After its first overseas deal in 2011 to sell a T-50 attack variant to Indonesia, KAI has pursued additional export orders with Turkey and other countries. 

In October, the Philippines agreed to buy 12 fighters. 

KAI was formed after South Korea's 1997 financial crisis as a joint venture of three companies specialising in arms production and aviation.

It has launched various projects to produce military and civilian planes. (AFP)

      

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