South Korea and US to Develop MRCA Version Of the FA-50 Trainer/Light Fighter Aircraft

South Korea and US to Develop MRCA Version Of the FA-50 Trainer/Light Fighter Aircraft
South Korea and US to Develop MRCA Version Of the FA-50 Trainer/Light Fighter Aircraft

International Military
- South Korean defense equipment manufacturer, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), headquartered in Sacheon-si is the developer of the FA-50 Fighting Eagle light fighter. As it is known that KAI is a supplier for the needs of the Fighter Lead In Trainer/Light Combat Aircraft (FLIT/LCA) of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).

RMAF itself ordered the FA-50 Block 20, which is a more capable variant because it underwent several upgrades or upgrades. Includes a variety of equipment to carry out various missions, in addition to training pilots.

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The Block 20 offered by the RMAF is equipped with various advanced ammunition such as the Sniper Advance Targeting Pod, 20mm cannon, AIM-9 missiles, GBU-12 LGB and many more. The use of a more capable targeting pod will allow the MRCA version to launch a more diverse and capable missile.

In addition to armament, the FA-50 Block 20 is equipped with an Air-To-Air Refueling Probe (AAR Probe) system that allows the aircraft to refuel in the air. With this new feature, the FA-50 Block 20 aircraft are capable of operating at longer distances.

As for other upgrade options that can be carried out in the future that are still being carried out by KAI. Namely the addition of an external fuel tank of 300 gallons, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) attack capability with the AMRAAM AIM-120 missile.

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There are several upgrade options that will be installed in the latest version of the FA-50, namely:

  • Multi-mode fire control radar
  • Glass cockpit with wide viewing area
  • Helmet mounted display
  • Air refueling capability
  • Electronic warfare system
  • New tactical data link multimode network centric system
  • Digital flight control system with triple redundancy.

A number of additional features for the FA-50 aircraft were announced as the latest variant of it, namely the Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA). Of course, this MRCA variant is more capable than the FA-50 Block 20, with some additional equipment and capabilities.

Quoted by Defense Security Asia, that information on the MRCA FA-50 version has been published at the Seoul International Aerospace and Exhibition 2021 (ADEX 2021). But this development will still take several years before it is fully operational, until now.

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Will Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Lockheed Martin develop a more capable variant of the FA-50 aircraft to offer to potential countries around the world? A few days ago, KAI and Lockheed Martin signed a "cooperation agreement" in Texas, under which the two defense equipment companies will form a steering committee.

Lockheed Martin itself is a partner of KAI from the United States who is trusted in the production of the FA-50 aircraft. The steering committee as reported by The Korea Times said that they "will focus on efforts to design, manufacture, promote an enhanced version of the FA-50 and market it to win US military processing projects".

This potential deal would allow the two companies to market the FA-50 worldwide. As a reminder, the FA-50 light fighter is a variant of the T-50 trainer developed by KAI and Lockheed Martin. Many countries have ordered hundreds of these FA-50 aircraft, for example Canada, Slovakia, Iraq and several countries in Southeast Asia.

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Citing Defense Security Asia, the US Air Force and Navy have ordered up to 240 FA-50 aircraft, and are expected to start next year and 2025.

If successful in securing this contract with the US, then the FA-50 is the most trainer aircraft supplied worldwide. The company also targets to sell 1,000 units of the T-50 trainer aircraft worldwide.

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