In Major Arms Deal, Poland To Acquire 48 FA-50 Combat Aircraft From South Korea

In Major Arms Deal, Poland To Acquire 48 FA-50 Combat Aircraft From South Korea

July 27, 2022 Off By Reem

Poland and the Republic of South Korea have reached an agreement on a major weapons purchase framework that will see the Polish Air Force receive 48 FA-50 lightweight multirole combat aircraft, along with hundreds of heavy tanks and howitzers going to ground forces. The announcement was made on July 27th by officials from both nations.

The framework agreement reached by both sides will allow Poland Air Force to acquire a versatile combat jet at a time of high frictions particularly with neighboring Russia which is already waging a war against Ukraine.

The Korean Aerospace Industries built FA-50 fighter jet is sometimes referred to as the T-50, a trainer variant of the same aircraft. In fact both aircraft can be configured to operate as light combat aircraft or jet trainers.

For Poland, whose air force has operated up to 48 US-supplied Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter aircraft, the need for additional combat aircraft delivery from the US seems to have never been higher. Being a NATO member allied to the United States, and Ukraine, it is likely in line as Russia’s next possible military target, given the current crisis in Ukraine. For the Polish Air Force which had been eager to replace two squadrons of Mig-29 it had inherited from its Soviet era’s days as a member of the Warsaw Pact, acquiring, preferrably new F-16s had become a dire necessity.

Recognizing South Korea’s aerospace industry maturity, the FA-50 is the closest possible replacement for the US-built Lockheed Martin F-16, for which it also serves as a conversion training aircraft in South Korean Air Force service. The FA-50/T-50 was in-fact developped as a joint US/South Korea program involving Lockheed Martin with some elements of its design clearly inspired by the F-16. The FA-50 is powered by a single General Electric F404 turbofan engine with afterburner which is also found on the Boeing/McDonnell Douglas F-18A Hornet and allows the FA-50 to reach a Mach 1.5 top speed. Although initial versions of the FA-50 had been fitted with the Israeli made EL/M-2032 radar, Poland’s may be able to get clearance from the US to integrate the AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar, the latest radar fitted on South Korea’s F-16s. Netherlands Scramble website has indicated that the Poland’s FA-50 aircraft will receive the Block 20 configuration, giving them the capability to fire the US AIM-120 AMRAAM medium-range air-to-air missile in beyond-visual-range BVR mode as well as conducting precision strikes using the Lockheed Martin AS/AAQ-33 Sniper Trageting pod.

Soonafter the agreement was announced, the Polish Defense Ministry indicated that South Korea will deliver 48 jets modernized for the needs of the Polish Air Force, with the first 12 fighters due to arrive by mid-2023. An FA-50 service center is also to be built in Poland by the year 2026.

For South Korea, this new export deal with Poland is valued in excess of 20 trillion won ($15.2 billion) according to the kedglobal website.