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Singapore Airshow 2022: KAI confirms bid for Malaysia's light combat aircraft programme

A model of the FA-50 at Singapore Airshow 2022. (Janes/Ridzwan Rahmat)

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has confirmed its participation in Malaysia's Light Combat Aircraft/Fighter Lead-In Trainer (LCA/FLIT) programme.

And the aircraft type that has been proposed for this requirement is the company’s FA-50 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), which is in turn based on KAI’s T-50 advanced jet trainer platform. 

Malaysia‘s Ministry of Defence issued a tender for the Royal Malaysian Air Force‘s (RMAF‘s) LCA/FLIT programme in June 2021 as part of the service‘s modernisation blueprint known as the Capability Development Plan 2055 (CAP55).

As part of this plan, the country seeks 18 airframes to replace its grounded fleet of seven Aermacchi MB-339CM jet trainers and 18 BAE Systems Hawk Mk 108 twin-seat and Mk 208 single-seat LCAs.

Speaking to Janes at Singapore Airshow 2022, a KAI official described the FA-50 as a proven platform that has been in service with the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) since 2013.

The aircraft type can also be configured quickly between the light fighter and lead-in trainer mission roles with minimal down times, is relatively low-cost per flying hour when compared with other aircraft in its class, and is proven to feature high levels of availability while serving the RoKAF.

“The fact that the FA-50 is in service with many customers around the world from the Middle East to Southeast Asia is also proof that the aircraft can withstand various operating conditions and climates,” said the KAI official.

Besides the RoKAF, the FA-50 and its derivatives are operated by the Iraqi Air Force, the Philippine Air Force, and the Royal Thai Air Force.

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