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South Korean ministry plans single-seat FA-50 investment

The single-seat KAI FA-50 project intends to replace the aircraft's second cockpit and crewperson with an additional fuel tank to increase the type's combat radius. (KAI)

South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) has announced a plan to fund the development of the single-seat version of the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 light trainer and attack aircraft.

The ministry said on 3 May that KRW49.4 billion (USD36.39 million) will be invested with KAI to develop the single-seat version. The project aims to improve the FA-50's ability to compete in the international market and expand the national “export portfolio”, according to the ministry.

“This development project intended to modify the single-seat airframe and include an auxiliary fuel system to increase operational radius by up to 30%,” MOTIE said.

Janes has previously reported on KAI's plan to develop the single-seat variant by removing the second pilot and cockpit and installing a 300 gal auxiliary fuel system in that space. In February 2023 during the Singapore Airshow, a KAI spokesperson told Janes that the aircraft's operational range could potentially be increased to as much as 20% as a result. Janes understands that KAI is conducting testing to determine how range can be enhanced. The FA-50's current radius of action is 239 n miles in a hi-lo-lo-hi configuration.

MOTIE also seeks the inclusion of a domestically developed Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (GCAS) on the FA-50.

The government will invest KRW29 billion in the programme from 2024 to 2028, the ministry said, adding that KAI and other partner countries will contribute the remainder of the sum.

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