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Malaysia “Very Likely” To Order Additional 18 Units Of FA-50M — KAI Official

KAI’s Regional Manager for Asia Park Shangshin anticipates that negotiation for the second batch of 18 FA-50M between the South Korean aerospace giant and Malaysia will start on the second half of 2026 and completed by early 2027.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has expressed its confidence that the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) will exercise the option to acquire another batch of 18 units of FA-50M light combat aircraft, bringing the total number of the fighter aircraft it will possess to 36 units.

KAI’s Regional Manager for Asia Park Shangshin anticipates that negotiation for the second batch of 18 FA-50M between the South Korean aerospace giant and Malaysia will start on the second half of 2026 and completed by early 2027.

“I think it is very much likely (for Malaysia to opt for a follow-on order of another 18 units of FA-50M), because we are track on the first batch and I believe our customer (Malaysia) are very satisfied with the implementation of the contract.”

“If RMAF want the same platform as the first batch, then I think the second batch (another 18 FA-50M) is just the continuation of the first batch,” he said, when met by the Malaysia’s national news agency, BERNAMA, on the sidelines of Defence Services Asia (DSA) and National Security (NATSEC) Asia 2024 exhibition here.

In May last year, Malaysia and KAI signed a contract worth almost RM4 billion for 18 units of FA-50 Block 20, which was later named as FA-50M (Malaysia).

FA-50
FA-50

 

The RMAF according to KAI’s senior officials will be getting its hands on the most capable variant of the light combat aircraft.

The FA-50M variant procured by Malaysia is more advanced and capable than even the FA-50 operated by the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) and other countries including in the region, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Other users of FA-50/T-50 fighter aircraft from previous variants in Southeast Asia include Thailand (14 T-50 units), the Philippines (12 FA-50 units), and Indonesia (22 T-50 units).

Currently, only RMAF and the Polish Air Force have opted for the latest variant of the “Fighting Eagle”.

Poland acquired a total of 48 FA-50 aircraft, comprising a combination of Block 20 and Block 10 variants.

Asked on the delivery date for 18 units of Malaysia’s FA-50M, Park said, the RMAF will receive their South Korean-made light combat aircraft beginning from October 2026 and the delivery will continue until June 2027 when the last of the18 units of the fighter aircraft are finally delivered to the country.

FA-50
(File picture)

 

He also said, Malaysia’s FA-50 variant will be of similar capabilities to the FA-50 procured by Poland, with both air forces operates the most-capable variants of the FA-50 which are equipped with the cutting-edge Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar and Sniper ATP (Advanced Targeting Pod).

 Besides the “PhantomStrike” AESA radar developed by RTX (formerly known as Raytheon) and Sniper ATP, Malaysia’s FA-50M light combat aircraft is also slated to be equipped “Chobham” air-refuelling probe for extended-range mission.

Additionally, the RMAF’s FA-50 Block 20 will feature a U/VHF radio system similar to the one used in the latest F-16 Block 70 fighter aircraft developed by Lockheed Martin.

The RMAF’s FA-50 Block 20 is also reported to be equipped with the “Link 16 Block Upgrade 2” military tactical data link, providing secure communication against enemy interference, among other capabilities.

The latest variant of the FA-50 acquired by Malaysia is also capable of carrying precision-guided bombs and other smart weapons.

FA-50
FA-50

 

Park was also asked on KAI’s other high-profile project, namely the ongoing development of KF-21 “Boramae” 4.5th generation fighter aircraft and whether the aircraft is a good fit for RMAF, which plan to replace its long-serving F/A-18D and Sukhoi Su-30MKM Multi Role Combat Aircrafts (MRCA) in 2035 and 2040.

“Sure, of course, I believe that it’s (KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft) going to be the optimal solution (for RMAF),” he said adding that KAI has not started formal discussions with Malaysian government regarding the KF-21 offer.

Launched in 2015, the KF-21 aircraft development program is estimated to cost US$6.59 billion (RM26.36 billion).

KAI plans to deliver 40 units of the KF-21 Block 1 aircraft designed for air-to-air missions in 2026, followed by 80 units of the Block 2 aircraft for air-to-ground missions in the subsequent phase.

The South Korean aerospace giant also reportedly intends to start exporting the KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft to interested customers after fulfilling the needs of the country’s air force, ROKAF.  — DSA

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