Korea Aerospace Industries has won a competition to supply Malaysia with light attack aircraft, the firm stated, marking its most recent sale of trainer/light attack jets.
The contract, worth $920 million, stipulates that the South Korean manufacturer will provide 18 FA-50 jets to the Southeast Asian nation, with the first delivery scheduled for 2026. Malaysia chose the FA-50 over the Tejas light combat aircraft manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. From of an original field that included the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex-made JF-17 and the Russian-made MiG-35, the nation had whittled the options down to these two.
Malaysia needs to enhance its air combat and training capabilities as it looks to replace its fleet of Hawk trainers and light combat aircraft manufactured by BAE Systems, which has experienced high attrition in recent years.
Also, the country desires to replace the sixteen MiG-29 interceptors it retired in 2017 due to insufficient financing for maintenance. In addition, a proposed multirole combat aircraft program to replace the aircraft languished due to budgetary restrictions.
Malaysia earlier stated that it needed 36 planes, therefore it will continue searching for an additional 18 jets.
The FA-50 is a combat-capable derivative of the T-50 Golden Eagle trainer, and Malaysia's selection will bring to four the number of Southeast Asian nations that fly the T-50 and its combat-capable derivatives. Moreover, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand operate the aircraft.
South Korea operates T-50, TA-50, and FA-50 aircraft. The latter two are combat-ready and can be outfitted with as many as seven external storage hardpoints capable of carrying air-to-air and precision-guided air-to-surface weaponry.
The combat-capable variants are also equipped with American- or Israeli-made radars, and KAI intends to include more advanced and capable radars in future block upgrades.
Iraq also uses a variant of the FA-50 known as the T-50IQ, whereas Poland has ordered 48 FA-50s as part of a huge military deal with South Korea. In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the European nation planned to replace its MiG-29 and Su-22 fighters, both of which were manufactured during the Soviet era.