Fighting Eagle to be Mainstay of RMAF Light Attack Squadrons

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KUALA LUMPUR: The FA-50 “Fighting Eagle” aircraft made by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) for the Royal Malaysian Air Force is a very capable fighter of its class that will see it becoming the mainstay of the service’s light combat aircraft (LCA) squadrons.

Possessing more internal fuel capacity, enhanced avionics and weapons capability and a tactical datalink, the FA-50 Block 20 KAI is supplying is the latest version of the FA-50 aircraft in its family.

“The aircraft is a very capable war fighting machine and weapon platform in its class, and it is viewed as an appropriate solution for the RMAF’s current and future operational and employment concepts,” says the Korean airframer’s Malaysian partner Kemalak Aerospace.

“It is equipped with modern avionics architecture, AESA radar, proven aircraft high performance F404 engine, new system integration with Air-to-Air Refuelling System, weapon capabilities with enhanced Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground Weapons including Laser Guided Bombs along with the Sniper Targeting Pod,” Kemalak Aerospace CEO Lt Col Khyril Faizi bin Amdan RMAF (retd) told Asian Defence Journal.

The supply package in the programme includes the spare parts, training and weapon integration. Weapon integration and nav attack systems are crucial to any fighter aircraft.  He said that the FA-50 is integrated with modern avionics and weapon systems, as well as a proper man-machine interface concept for effective employment for its role and function.

“Weapons integration for the FA-50 enable the aircraft to be loaded with current weapon in RMAF’s inventory. Therefore, it will greatly reduce the financial, logistic and maintenance issues for additional weapon inventory.,” said Khyril who flew the F/A-18D Hornet among other aircraft when he was in the service.

The Republic of Korea (ROK) Air Force will conduct initial training for pilots and technicians until they achieve the required initial operating experience, after which the subsequent training for pilots and technicians will be conducted “in country.”

Korea Aerospace Industries, Ltd (KAI), South Korea’s sole aircraft manufacturer, announced Feb 24 it has won a 1.2 trillion-won (US$920 million) light combat aircraft deal from Malaysia, with the delivery set to begin in 2026.

Defence Minister Mohamad Hasan said that the RMAF will be getting the latest version of the Korean Aerospace Industries FA-50 for its Fighter Lead-In Trainer-Light Combat Aircraft (FLIT / LCA) requirement. The FA-50 Fighting Eagle is the combat variant of the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer aircraft developed by KAI and Lockheed Martin, based on the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter.

“We are buying 18 aircraft for the first batch, enough for one squadron… The aircraft’s capability is as good as a Multi Role Combat Aircraft, a bigger and more expensive fighter jet,” he told Parliament March 16, adding that “the FA-50 is a capable fighter jet, it will be used for the time being as we evaluate the requirement for the MRCA programme.”  — adj/mhi/mgm (Pix: KAI)