The Korean-made FA-50 light fighter is emerging in the international arms market as a new star.
The fact that the Polish Ministry of Defense recently signed a contract with South Korea to purchase 48 FA-50 light fighters (most likely the Block 20 version). This is very meaningful information and worth the reference of other countries.
The Polish Air Force intends to replace the Soviet-made Su-22 squadron with the FA-50 as the Korean-made multirole fighter proves to be superior in all respects. Poland’s step is considered the most obvious suggestion for countries that are looking to replace the Su-22 attack aircraft, but do not have enough money to buy modern and expensive 4+ generation fighters.
According to the manufacturer, the FA-50 Block 20 is the next modernized version of the FA-50 Block 10 light fighter – the aircraft itself is created on the basis of the T-50 Golden Eagle trainer. Specifications of the FA-50 include a length of 12.98 m; wingspan is 9.17 m; height is 4.78 m; maximum take-off weight is 12 tons; maximum speed reaches Mach 1.4; flight range is 1,850 km; service ceiling is 14,630 m, and weapons payload is 3.74 tons.
The FA-50 Block 20 can fulfill the practical role of a light multirole fighter. Besides, it is still a reliable training machine, allowing countries familiar with Soviet weapons to gradually change to the new system. FA-50 can perform many flexible maneuvers, not inferior to expensive 4+ generation fighters. It proved to be superior to fighters based on other trainers such as Yak-130 or JL-10.
It should be noted that the FA-50 Block 20 offers the option to install the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 radar, which is a new generation of active phased array radar, fitted to the most advanced version of the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter. The FA-50 Block 20 is compatible with the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile. It is also capable of deploying high-precision air-to-ground weapons systems, especially when integrated with Lockheed Martin’s Sniper laser targeting pod.
Also depending on the customer’s requirements, an aerial refueling system can be integrated. The manufacturer is ready to provide additional options to improve combat power. If we take the value of the contract with Malaysia of 51.1 million USD for an FA-50 Block 20, with both spare parts and infrastructure for reference, the above price is considered quite competitive when placed next to the features of the fighter.
South Korea is bringing to the market a light fighter built on the basis of a trainer, which has a positive effect on operating costs, with a wide range of combat capabilities. The need to replace Soviet-era weapons in some countries makes Korean-made defense products extremely interesting, especially considering the ratio of costs and actual combat capabilities that customers are expected to receive. Currently, many countries are closely watching the FA-50 take over the role of replacing Su-22 in Poland as well as MiG-29 in Malaysia to make purchasing decisions.