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Egypt's AOI confirms agreement to produce South Korean jet trainers

The South Korean Black Eagles aerobatic team perform during the Pyramids Air Show on 3 August 2022. (Mahmoud Khaled/AFP via Getty Images)

Egypt's state-owned Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) has confirmed it has signed an agreement with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to locally manufacture advanced training aircraft.

In a statement released on 16 January, the AOI said its chairman, Mokhtar Abdel-Latif, had met a South Korean delegation that included members of parliament and senior officials from KAI and Hanwha Aerospace. They discussed the implementation of the AOI's agreement with KAI to “localise the manufacturing technology for an advanced training aircraft to meet the needs of the armed forces and export it to African and Arab countries”, it said.

The aircraft will be built at the AOI Aircraft Factory in Helwan, which previously licence-produced Chinese K-8E trainers for the Egyptian Air Force. It was reported that Egypt was producing more than 94% of the aircraft when the 120th and final K-8E was delivered in May 2010.

When South Korea's Black Eagles aerobatics team visited Egypt to fly its T-50B jets in the Pyramids Air Show in August 2022, KAI's Lee Bong Keun said his company was negotiating an agreement under which Egypt would jointly produce and market the armed FA-50 version of the company's T-50 trainer. “Egypt will become a key base covering the entire African and Middle Eastern markets,” he was quoted as saying.

The South Korean media reported that Egypt's requirement for a new trainer could potentially be as large as 100 aircraft and that the FA-50 was well placed against its competitors, the Chinese L-15 and the Italian M-346, due to its high level of compatibility with the F-16, which is flown by the Egyptian Air Force.

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