KAI continues to support Senegal’s KA-1S fleet

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After supplying four KA-1 turboprops to Senegal’s Air Force, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) continues to provide support to the fleet two years later.

KAI reported that a recent Aviation Safety Day was held in Senegal where the company expressed its gratitude to the Senegalese Air Force for the accident-free and safe operation of the aircraft over the last wo years, and provided training to ensure continued aircraft safety.

Four KA-1S light attack and trainer turboprops were delivered between 2020 and 2021, and KAI dispatched technical personnel over an initial two-year period to look after the aircraft. In March 2022, when the warranty period was over, KAI personnel withdrew from the field, and from now on, the Senegalese Air Force is operating the KA-1S on its own.

To help with the transition period, KAI personnel travelled to Senegal on 23 June for the Aviation Safety Day to discuss accident prevention and the importance of aviation safety. Joo-Yeol Moon, head of the African region business division of KAI, said, “In the unlikely event that an unauthorized person performs maintenance or uses defective parts, it can be fatal to the safe operation of the aircraft. Therefore, through this event, awareness of aviation safety has been raised.”

KAI Director Song Jun-ho said the Senegalese Air Force’s satisfaction with the KA-1S is very high. “There was no accident during the operation period, and I am very satisfied with the flight training and various missions perfectly performed.”

“As Senegal is stably operating the KA-1S, which it introduced for pilot training and airspace defence, neighbouring countries are also watching with interest,” KAI said.

The KA-1S exported to Senegal is based on the KT-1 basic trainer, and can be armed. The KA-1S is equipped with an armament control unit and a mission computer, and a head-up display (HUD) and a multi-function display are installed in the cockpit. Four hardpoints under the wings can carry 12.7 mm gun pods, rockets and bombs.

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 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). The first of two C295 transports arrived in July 2022.