KAI pitches to sell FA-50 trainer-light combat aircraft to Slovakia

KAI sell FA50 Slovakia
KAI FA-50 light combat aircraft.

South Korean aircraft manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is in talks with the Slovak government to sell 10 FA-50 advanced trainer/light combat aircraft under a $ 500 million deal. Slovakia is expected to issue a request for proposals for new training aircraft in the first half of next year. KAI signed a MoU with Slovakian aircraft repair company LOTN on Wednesday in Hungary on the occasion of South Korea President Moon Jae-in's ongoing European tour. The MOU will facilitate negotiations between KAI and LOTN on potential industrial compensations should the FA-50 win the tender. Jae-in, who arrived in Budapest on a state visit on Tuesday, will hold a summit today with the prime ministers of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.

Slovakia is seeking up to 10 modern trainers to replace its legacy L-39 Albatros. The country intends to retain an indigenous training capability, which will reduce costs as it inducts its new F-16 Block 70s into service. The first Slovak F-16 pilots will be trained in the United States at "unsustainable costs".

Previously only Leonardo and Aero Vodochody had shown interest in meeting the requirement of Slovakia.

Leonardo's offer is based on the M-345 and M-346 trainer aircraft which are the "most advanced training systems available today on the market" and include a fully developed on-board simulation and Live Virtual Constructive capability.

Thanks to the characteristics of its programs, different alternative solutions can be prospected in response to Slovak needs, and Leonardo is confident that also in the Slovakian case its technologies are well fit for improving the operational skills of the Air force toward the exploitation of the new fighter fleet.

While the M-346 is the most advanced solution available today for the Lead in Fighter Training (LIFT) phase, the M-345 is able to support the whole pilot’s basic and advanced training. Both platforms boast a dual-role configuration that allows them to carry a wide range of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons for combat missions as well as reconnaissance pods. The M-346, in its M-346FA Fighter Attack variant, also includes the modern Grifo Radar with the first aircraft already operational at the first international customer.

In addition, Leonardo also offers Slovakia the opportunity to send its pilot students to the International Flight Training School (IFTS).

"We observe that in the current situation Slovakian Armed forces are interested in maintaining a national training capability: nevertheless, the International Flight Training School by ITAF and Leonardo, represents a further element in the reliability of our perspectives for Slovakia as a fully operational school that can integrate particular SK needs thanks to the modularity of its programs. It has been created by Italian Air Force and Leonardo to meet the growing international demand for training services at the highest standards worldwide and has been already chosen by Qatari, German and Japan air forces for their future pilots, being already recognized today as an excellence and a benchmark in the training of pilots who will operate current as well as future generation combat platforms," Leonardo said.

On the other hand, Aero has offered ten new generation L-39NG jets, which are based on the venerable L-39 Albatros. The Czech company's proposal also includes access to modern simulators in the Czech Republic and significant industrial participation in the program.

Written by Matteo Sanzani

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