Malaysia to Order More South Korean FA-50 Jets?

Last May, Malaysia and KAI finalized a nearly RM4 billion deal for 18 FA-50 Block 20 aircraft
  • bureau
  • 05:01 AM, May 13, 2024
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Malaysia to Order More South Korean FA-50 Jets?
FA-50 fighter jet @KAI

Malaysia is reportedly considering acquiring additional FA-50 combat aircraft from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), one year after purchasing 18 units in the Block 20 configuration.

In an official statement today, the South Korean arms procurement agency, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), disclosed discussions with Malaysia at the Malaysian Defense Industry Exhibition (DSA) regarding the potential additional purchase of these aircraft.

"We have evaluated the performance of the first FA-50 export contract signed with Malaysia's Minister of Defense last May and have discussed plans for a second export. In particular, we have explored ways to enhance ongoing cooperation between the two countries by establishing FA-50 follow-up logistics support infrastructure in Malaysia," said DAPA.

Moreover, both the Malaysian Minister of National Defense and the head of the DAPA attended the signing ceremony of an MOU for business cooperation related to the export of Cheonmu between companies from both countries (Korea's Hanwha Aerospace Co., Ltd. and WBG Co., Ltd.), including future exports of guided weapons such as Cheonmu and Cheongung-II. “We have decided to actively pursue further consultations," DAPA added.

This announcement closely follows a report by Malaysia's government news agency, Bernama, which outlined the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF)'s intention to acquire an additional 18 FA-50M light combat aircraft, effectively doubling its current fleet to 36 units.

Malaysia to Order More South Korean FA-50 Jets?
FA-50 fighter jet @KAI

In an interview with Bernama, KAI's Regional Manager for Asia, Park Shangshin, anticipated that negotiations for this second batch of 18 FA-50M aircraft between KAI and Malaysia would begin in the latter half of 2026, with conclusions expected by early 2027.

Last May, Malaysia and KAI finalized a nearly RM4 billion deal for 18 FA-50 Block 20 aircraft, subsequently designated as FA-50M (Malaysia).

The FA-50M variant procured by Malaysia boasts enhanced capabilities compared to the FA-50 models used by the Republic of Korea Air Force and other regional operators like Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Currently, only the RMAF and the Polish Air Force have selected this latest 'Fighting Eagle' variant.

Regarding the delivery timeline for Malaysia's 18 FA-50M units, Park indicated that the RMAF would commence receiving their aircraft from October 2026, with deliveries continuing until June 2027, when the final batch of 18 units is expected to be handed over.

Malaysia's FA-50 variant will be equipped with features such as the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar and Sniper ATP (Advanced Targeting Pod).

In addition to the PhantomStrike AESA radar developed by RTX (formerly Raytheon) and Sniper ATP, Malaysia's FA-50M light combat aircraft is slated to include a Chobham air-refueling probe for extended-range missions. This latest FA-50 variant can also carry precision-guided bombs and other advanced weaponry.

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