A third batch of six aircraft arrived at the Martyr Mohammed Alaa Air Base at Baghdad International Airport on June 6, joining four aircraft delivered in two batches by March 2018.
Iraq is due to acquire a total of 24 T-50IQs to equip two squadrons.
The KAI Golden Eagle is a South Korean supersonic advanced trainer and light combat aircraft, developed by the company in partnership with Lockheed Martin.
The Golden Eagle was South Korea’s first indigenous supersonic aircraft and is available in several versions. The basic T-50 is a supersonic advanced trainer, while the T-50B is used by the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) Black Eagles aerobatic team.
The TA-50 variant is an armed derivative, fitted with wingtip missile launch rails and an internal gun – a three-barrelled version of the M61 Vulcan. It also has Elta EL/M-2032 fire control radar and is optimised for lead-in fighter training and light attack.
The TA-50 formed the basis of the further enhanced FA-50 – the most advanced version of the T-50, with a longer radome housing a longer-range version of the Elta radar, enhanced avionics, increased internal fuel capacity, and a tactical datalink.
Meanwhile, the T-50A is an FA-50 derivative developed to meet the US Air Force’s TX trainer requirement, with a dorsal hump for an aerial refuelling receptacle and extra internal fuel, as well as a large area display, and embedded training systems.
Despite its ‘T-’ designation prefix, the Iraqi T-50IQ is understood to be a derivative of the FA-50.
Iraq first expressed interest in the T-50 in 2009, but initially selected the Czech L-159T to meet its requirement for a lead-in fighter trainer. The deal fell through, however, and Iraq ordered 24 T-50IQs in December 2013, becoming the first export customer for the Golden Eagle. This was said to be the largest single South Korean arms sale to date.
The contract stipulated that Iraqi pilot and ground crew training was to have begun in 2014, with aircraft deliveries due to take place between April 2016 and March 2017, though the ISIL uprising interrupted these plans and single-seat L159s were procured as an interim light attack aircraft.
Stay up to date
Subscribe to the free Times Aerospace newsletter and receive the latest content every week. We'll never share your email address.