Malaysia picks KAI FA-50 light combat aircraft

Malaysia picks KAI FA50
Philippine Air Force FA-50 light combat aircraft.

South Korean aircraft maker Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) announced on Friday that it had signed a $920 million contract with Malaysia to supply 18 FA-50 light combat aircraft.

"The FA-50 is an excellent aircraft with multi-purpose performance and I was very impressed with the Korean production facilities and the operational status of the Air Force during the field inspection," Malaysian Deputy Defense Minister Datuk Muez said.

According to the KAI, Malaysia will receive an upgraded version of the FA-50 which will include aerial refueling capability and an increased range of weapons. Delivery of the first aircraft is expected in 2026.

The FA-50 won over India's Tejas jet. Pakistan's JF-17, Russia's MIG-35 and Turkey's Hurjet also participated in the competition.

Malaysia plans to introduce 18 more aircraft of the same type as the FA-50, so the total amount could increase to 36 aircraft.

KAI said the high level of satisfaction with the aircraft from Indonesia and the Philippines, Malaysia's neighbors, had a big impact on winning the competition. This marks KAI's fourth win in the Southeast Asian market after Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, and the largest contract in Southeast Asia.

Currently KAI has sold 204 aircraft worldwide: 104 of the T-50 Series (Indonesia 22, Iraq 24, Philippines 12, Thailand 14, Poland 48) and 84 of the KT-1 Series (Indonesia 20, Turkey 40, Peru 20 , Senegal 4)

KAI said the FA-50's proven performance and operational efficiency are highly appreciated in the Southeast Asian market, noting that many of the current operators are considering expanding their fleet as neighboring countries are considering introducing the type.

Following the overseas success of the FA-50, KAI also plans to export the KF-21 Boramae fighter and the Surion helicopter which are progressing smoothly in their development phases. The company is targeting Australia and the United States as well as the Middle East and Africa.

Written by Matteo Sanzani

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