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Polish pilots commence FA-50 training in South Korea

Poland is to receive 48 FA-50 light combat aircraft from late 2023 to augment its existing types. (KAI)

Polish Air Force pilots have begun training on the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft in South Korea.

Seoul media reported the milestone on 22 February, saying the first cadre of four pilots had been inducted into the Republic of Korea Air Force's (RoKAF's) 1st Fighter Wing in Gwangju. A further four will pass through the 23-week training pipeline before the end of 2023.

The commencement of training came about five months after Warsaw signed for 48 FA-50 aircraft as part of a wider bilateral defence procurement agreement with Seoul in September 2022.

The first 12 FA-50 aircraft, to be designated FA-50PL in Polish service, will be delivered in mid-2023, with the remainder to follow according to an undisclosed timeline. Once in service, the 48 FA-50PLs will augment the Polish Air Force's existing 48 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 50+ Fighting Falcons.

With the FA-50PLs augmenting the F-16s, the service's 21 MiG-29 ‘Fulcrum' and nearly 30 Sukhoi Su-22 ‘Fitter' Warsaw Pact-era aircraft are scheduled to be replaced by 32 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters under Poland's Harpia programme. Separately, Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak has also touted the possibility of acquiring other advanced Western combat aircraft types, such as the Boeing F-15 Eagle and the KAI KF-21 Boramae.

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