Senegal has taken delivery of the first two of four KT-1S light attack and trainer aircraft from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), with the remaining two to be delivered before year-end.
The two aircraft were delivered on 3 April, according to the latest edition of KAI’s Fly Together magazine. The delivery was requested ahead of Senegal’s 4 April Independence Day celebrations. The remaining two will be delivered by October.
Training of Senegalese pilots and mechanics on the KT-1 is being carried out in South Korea.
Although primarily a trainer aircraft, the KT-1 can be configured for light attack missions and designated KA-1. In this guise it is fitted gun pods, bombs, rockets and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.
The KT-1 is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-62 engine delivering 950 hp and giving a top speed of 648 km/h.
In 2013 Senegal was in talks with Embraer over the purchase of several Super Tucanos, but the deal was never finalised and Senegal opted for the KT-1 instead, ordering four in July 2016 in what was an important step towards KAI opening up the African market. The aircraft are to be delivered over a 30 month period. The deal was facilitated by a meeting between the Presidents of South Korea and Senegal in 2015.
The West African nation’s air force lacks a modern trainer aircraft, with only a number of TB-30 Epsilons in its inventory. In 2014 France donated four Epsilon trainers to Senegal and another two in May 2019 after they were retired from the French Air Force.
The Epsilon is the only dedicated fixed wing trainer in service with Senegal’s Air Force, although it also has a single Rallye 235 Guerrier aircraft at the training school at Thies.
Of late the Senegal Air Force has been modernising, with small but significant deliveries, particularly on the transport front. This includes CN-235s replacing the ageing F27-400s (two second hand CN235s were received in 2010 and a single new CN235-220M in January 2017. Two NC-212-200 maritime surveillance and a CN235-220 maritime patrol aircraft are on order.)
With the retirement of its Fouga Magister light attack aircraft, Senegal was essentially left without a fixed wing combat fleet (it has multiple armed Mi-171Shs and Mi-24/35s in service). However, that is set to change from 2020 when the country will take delivery of the first of four L-39NG attack and trainer jets from Aero Vodochody. These will be fitted with AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles for an air-to-air capability – although training aircraft, Senegal’s L-39NGs will feature five hard points for carrying weaponry.