• A model of a FA-50 in Royal Malaysian Air Force markings on display at LIMA 2023. (Nigel Pittaway)
    A model of a FA-50 in Royal Malaysian Air Force markings on display at LIMA 2023. (Nigel Pittaway)

Speaking on the second day of Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) 2023, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) Regional Manager and Chief of International Business Development for Asia Sangshin Park provided details of the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s recent F/A-50 Golden Eagle contract. 

The RMAF will acquire at least 18 F/A-50 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) with deliveries set to commence in October 2026, 42 months after contract signature. The 18th aircraft of the initial tranche will be handed over ten months after the first. The deal was concluded in 2022, with negotiation of final contractual details now underway. 

Malaysia also has a follow-on requirement for a second tranche of 18 aircraft but a contract has yet to be concluded. 

Park told ADM on 24 May that the Malaysian aircraft will be built to the latest standard of the fighter/attack variant of the T-50/FA-50 design and will be similar to those now in production for the Polish Air Force. 

The RMAF’s aircraft will feature an air-to-air refuelling (AAR) capability and will be fitted with an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar based on the APG-84 Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR) design, and named PhantomStrike

Malaysia selected the South Korean FA-50 after also evaluating a range of other light combat aircraft, including India’s indigenous Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas, Russia’s Yakovlev YAK-130 and the Leonardo M-346 Master.

The RMAF deal is the latest in a series of successes KAI has announced in recent times, including the aforementioned contract with Poland for 48 aircraft. In the Asia-Pacific region the T-50/FA-50 is operated by the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) and the air forces of Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. It is also being proposed as a solution for the RAAF’s future BAE Systems Hawk Mk.127 Lead In Fighter Trainer (LIFT) replacement program under Project Air 6002 Phase 1.

Park says there are also future opportunities for a second batch of 12 aircraft for the Philippines. “We’re seeing renewed interest from our existing customers, who are coming back for more aircraft,” he said.

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