Under the deal, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) will deliver 24 FA-50 jets to the Iraqi Air Force between 2015 and 2016. The FA-50 is a light attack variant of the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer aircraft jointly built by Lockheed Martin. The Iraq export version is named the T-50IQ.
The FA-50 beat the Hawk-128 by BAE Systems, the Yak-130 by Yakovlev of Russia and the L-159 by Aero Vodochody of the Czech Republic.
The FA-50 can be armed with a variety of air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions, the latter being of more interest to Iraq’s government, which is at war with anti-state militant groups including the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a powerful al-Qaeda affiliate.
KAI is also expected to sign a 25-year training and support contract with Iraq at a value of $1 billion, doubling the total size of the deal. With this move, the Korean firm is hoping to push its way into the global warplane market in a big way. Deals with Botswana, the UAE, the Philippines, and Chile are said to be on the horizon.