By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, March 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea signed a US$420 million contract Friday to export 12 FA-50 fighter jets built by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to the Philippines under a government-to-government deal, the state arms procurement agency said.
The FA-50 is a light attack variant of the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer that was co-developed by KAI and U.S. defense firm Lockheed Martin. It is the most advanced variant of the T-50 family operated by the South Korean Air Force.
Philippine defense chief Voltaire Gazmin, South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) commissioner Lee Yong-geol and KAI CEO Ha Sung-yong attended the signing ceremony held at the Philippine's defense ministry.
KAI will deliver the jets in the next 38 months under the government-to-government program guaranteed by the state-run Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), in the first such deal with the Manila government.
The contract comes after South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III in October signed a memorandum of understanding on expanding defense cooperation between the two nations.
A contingent of South Korean relief troops has been stationed in the Philippines to help restoration efforts in a region devastated by a typhoon in November.
The Philippine contract is expected to boost the South Korean aircraft maker's overseas bid for T-50 family jets, following deals with Iraq in December and Indonesia in 2011.
KAI said it is also seeking to sell its aircraft to Peru, Botswana and the United Arab Emirates, while eyeing the U.S. Air Force's T-38 replacement program in partnership with Lockheed Martin.
The FA-50 has a radar warning receiver and a night vision imaging system, and is capable of carrying 4,500 kilograms of weapons. It also has a 20mm cannon and can carry air-to-air missiles.
The other two variants are the T-50B performance aircraft and the TA-50, a lightly-armed version of the T-50.
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