The US government has blocked South Korea from exporting $400 million worth of indigenous supersonic training jets to Uzbekistan.
South Korea had been in negotiations with the Uzbek government to export T-50 Golden Eagle trainers but the US government is opposing the deal, citing possible technology leakage and diplomatic policy.
The T-50 Golden Eagle was co-developed in 2006 with Lockheed Martin, using the firm’s core technologies, including the avionics system and engine.
Because of this South Korea needs to get approval from the US government to export the aircraft in accordance with the US Arms Export Control Act.
The T-50 has been further developed into aerobatic and combat variants, namely T-50B, TA-50, and FA-50. The F-50 is another advanced fighter variant being considered. The T-50B serves with the South Korean air force’s aerobatics team. The TA-50 light attack variant has been ordered by Indonesia. The Philippines ordered 12 units of the FA-50 variant and Thailand ordered 4 units of the T-50 advanced trainer variant. The design is largely derived from the F-16 Fighting Falcon and they have many similarities: use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons.
The refusal comes at a sensitive time when as South Korea’s weapons procurement agency has been denied key avionics technologies with its purchase of 40 F-35 jets.