KAI delivers first FA-50 aircraft to Poland

FA-50 Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft.
FA-50 Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft.

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has delivered the first two FA-50 Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft on order by Poland on 10 July, the Polish Minister of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak confirmed.

According to reports, the new aircraft will be deployed at the Polish Air Force’s 23rd Tactical Air Base located in Mińsk Mazowiecki, with the incumbent MiG-29 fighters having relocated to the 22nd Tactical Air Base in Malbork in December 2022 ahead of renovation work.

In September 2022, Warsaw committed to acquiring 48 FA-50 light attack aircraft worth up to US$3 billion under a broader South Korean arms package that also includes Hyundai Rotem’s K2 main battle tanks and Hanwha Defense’s K9 155mm self-propelled howitzers.

The first 12 aircraft were subsequently designated as FA-50GF (Gap Filler) were set to be delivered from mid-2023, of which the first two have been delivered. The remaining 36 FA-50PL (Poland) aircraft will be customised for the unique requirements of the Polish Air Force and are expected to be delivered between 2025 and 2028.

KAI will also establish a maintenance, repair, overhaul (MRO) centre in Poland as well as an international pilot training school using the FA-50 aircraft.

The company recently secured a US$920 deal with the Malaysian Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) to supply 18 FA-50 aircraft in February 2023.

It also announced in July 2021 that it had signed a US$240 million agreement with the Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MoD) to provide an additional six T-50i Golden Eagles for its lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) programme. The company stated that the deal will run through October 2024 and will include associated logistics support.

Elsewhere in the region, Thailand is also reportedly acquired another two more T-50TH advanced jet trainers to increase its lead-in jet trainer fleet to 14. The move is expected to enable the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) to gradually phase out its Czech-made Aero Vodochody L-39ZA Albatross training aircraft fleet.

Besides Indonesia and Thailand, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is also another operator of the type having acquired the 12 FA-50PH aircraft.

The FA-50 is a single-engine, supersonic aircraft developed by KAI and derived from the T-50 Golden Eagle trainer built for the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) with technical assistance from Lockheed Martin, with an eye on emerging international requirements for affordable lead-in fighter trainer and light-attack aircraft.

by Jr Ng