The KAI FA-50 will be available in a single-seat version by South Korea

Entered into service in 2005, the T-50 training aircraft, the origin of the KAi FA-50 light fighter, is the first combat aircraft equipped with a supersonic turbojet designed by the South Korean KAI, in partnership with Indonesia which assumed 20% of its development costs.

The T-50, the first trainer aircraft equipped with triple-redundant fly-by-wire controls, high performance and modern avionics, quickly found success for advanced fighter pilot training. After orders from South Korea (60 aircraft) and Indonesia (16 units), it was ordered by the Royal Thai Air Force for 14 training aircraft.

Equipped with high performance, thanks to its GE F404 reactor, identical to that which powers the F/A-18 Hornet and the JAS-39 Gripen C/D, the T-50 has since evolved into a weapons aircraft. First in the TA-50 light attack version, ordered in 22 units by the South Korean air forces, then in the FA-50 version, a two-seater multipurpose light fighter, ordered by Iraq (24 units), the Philippines (12) and, more recently, by Poland, for 12 Block 10s and 36 Block 20s, and Malaysia, with 18 FA-50 Block 20s.

From the T-50 trainer to the FA-50 light fighter

Like other light fighters, such as the American F-5 Freedom Fighter, which it replaces in the Philippines, the FA-50 is a versatile aircraft, equipped with high-performance avionics with an EL/M-2032 doppler radar. pulse for the TA-50 and FA-50 Block 10, or the Raytheon PhantomStrike AESA for the Block 20 version.

T-50 prototype
The two TX prototypes of the T-50 on tight patrol

In this latest version, the Golden Eagle can carry a wide range of advanced munitions under its 7 hardpoints, including the AMSRAAM, Iris-T, Sidewinder and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, numerous air-to-ground munitions including the guided bomb JDAM glide, the JSM anti-ship missile and various air-to-ground missiles, including the British SPEAR 3 and Brimstone, and the now famous German KEPD 350K-2 Taurus. Interestingly, the device has a rotating 20mm tri-tube internal cannon, fed with 205 rounds.

The compact aircraft, only 13,1 meters long and 9,45 m wingspan, has an empty mass of 6,5 tonnes, and a maximum take-off weight of 10,7 tonnes, including 2 kg of fuel. internal. It then maintains excellent performance, with its F600 turbojet developing 404 tonnes of dry thrust and 6 tonnes with post-combustion.

In fact, the FA-50 Block 20, in its current version which remains two-seater, displays a maximum speed of Mach 1,5, a ceiling close to 15 meters, and a range of 000 km, allowing it to have an operational range of around 1 km, close to that of an F-800, which however carries twice as many external loads.

The KAI FA-50 will be available in a single-seat version by South Korea

If the performance of the KAI FA-50 is more than respectable, it makes sense when compared to the price of the device. Indeed, the FA-50 Block 20 is priced around $45 million by KAI, or 35% cheaper than a Swedish JAS 39 Gripen D, and 50% cheaper than an F-16.

KAi FA-50 South Korea
The TA-50 is an attack and close air support version of the FA-50

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