Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) will begin delivering the FA-50 light attack aircraft to Poland in mid-2023, the Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said.
The possibility of such a fast delivery was one of the main reasons that Poland decided to order the aircraft, Błaszczak added.
Speaking to Defense24.pl, Błaszczak said: “Other manufacturers of equipment were not able to provide us with weapons of this quality, in such a short time and with such extensive cooperation with the Polish defense industry.”
According to Błaszczak, Poland discussed the purchase of Lockheed Martin F-16 Falcon fighter jets with the US, however, the manufacturer was unable to deliver the aircraft in such a short time, leading Poland to select the FA-50 instead.
Blaszczak also emphasized that many of the FA-50’s systems are based on those of the F-16, meaning that Poland has a capability to service the new airplanes. In addition, pilots who flew the FA-50 will be able to transition to the F-16 in “a few hours”, Błaszczak noted.
He also cited the example of Slovakia ordering its F-16s in 2018. The order was delayed, requiring Czechia and Poland to patrol Slovakian airspace.
All 48 FA-50s ordered by Poland will be in the latest Block 20 configuration, capable of carrying the AIM-120 AMRAAM medium-range air-to-air missile, as well as being configured in accordance with NATO standards. Additionally, an FA-50 service center will be built in Poland by 2026.
“I will add now that acquiring these aircraft is not our last word in terms of developing the capabilities of the Polish Air Force. We will accelerate the deliveries of the already contracted F-35s. In the longer term, we plan to acquire additional F-35 or F-15 and we are closely monitoring the progress of our partners from South Korea on the KF-21 Boramae,” Błaszczak added.
Poland announced the order of the KAI FA-50 Fighting Eagle aircraft in late July 2022, in a massive procurement sweep that also included hundreds of South Korean K2 main battle tanks and K9 self-propelled howitzers.
The FA-50 is a light combat variant of the T-50 advanced jet trainer. According to KAI, the aircraft is capable of reaching the speed of Mach 1.5 and carrying a vast array of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons.