The South Korean manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) received a preliminary request for information (RFI) from Malaysia on January 5. Malaysia has issued a RFI to Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) in support of a potential acquisition of the company’s FA-50 light attack aircraft. Under the country’s proposed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) procurement programme the Royal Malaysian Air Force is thought to be seeking to acquire an initial 12 aircraft with an option for another 24 units in future years. The decision to move ahead with the LCA programme has also been motivated by Malaysia’s unsuccessful attempts at procuring a larger platform under its Multirole Combat Aircraft (MRCA) programme.
Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50 is actually being considered and RMAF is also keen on acquiring mix fleet of single and Trainer aircraft which can be used as LIFT roles to train its newer pilots after they move from BAe Hawks AJT to F/A-18C/D Hornet or Su-30MKM. Use of American supplied engines in both the aircraft also aligns with Malaysia Hornet as both fighters use the same engine manufactured by American General Electric supplied F-400 family engines which will lead to lower operating costs and also better after spares and support arrangements.
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) estimates that the Southeast Asian market could have an appetite for 60 more Golden Eagles, including options. This would consist of potential follow-on orders, as well as the Malaysian Light Combat Aircraft program. FA-50 light combat jet is widely popular in the region and has been purchased by the Philippines Air Force, Indonesian Air Force, and Royal Thai Air Force and might continue to hold front-runner’s position in Malaysia. KAI has begun the development of an improved variant of the FA-50, with enhanced air-to-ground capabilities. Known as the FA-50 Block 10, the upgraded batch will integrate the Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-33 Sniper targeting pod, allowing the aircraft to self-designate and deploy laser-guided munitions.