KAI FA-50 Fighting Eagle Light Combat Aircraft
KAI FA-50 Fighting Eagle Light Combat Aircraft

UK Blocks Sale of South Korean FA-50 Fighters to Argentine Air Force

The United Kingdom has effectively barred the sale of the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 Fighting Eagle to Argentina, with the South Korean manufacturer informing Buenos Aires that it is unable to supply the light fighter and strike jet since six major components of the aircraft that are produced in the United Kingdom. Since 1982, when the Falkland Islands War broke out, the British have had an arms embargo on former rivals. The manufacturer says that although it has not yet found a solution, it is making efforts to resolve the issue. The information was revealed by a letter from KAI to the Argentine ambassador to South Korea on October 28.

Argentine Air Force evaluated the FA-50 as a potential new platform in 2016. The Argentine government is seeking to buy the FA-50 through repatriation in Korea. The Argentine defense minister said that when the financial aid is secured a contract for the FA-50 with KAI can be signed by December 2017. Previously, KAI recently said that the deal for the sale of 10 FA-50 light fighters to the Argentine Air Force has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. KAI spokesman told local media that the spread of the virus has forced Argentina to allocate the current budget to other healthcare-related projects.

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KAI FA-50 Light Attack Version
KAI FA-50 Light Attack Version

As of July 2019, the Argentine Air Force, is set to buy FA-50s as an interim replacement for the retired Mirage 3, 5, and Dagger force. It is also to help replace the retiring A-4AR Fightinghawk fleet, as those aircraft are aging and becoming difficult to repair and maintain. If the deal is approved it will be a first step in modernizing and revitalizing the country’s fighter fleet. The 12-ton fighter retails for around $30 million per copy, tens of millions of dollars less than what a new F-16 or similar, heavier fighter costs. And with that, the FA-50—just like the Gripen, F-16, Mirage F.1 and FC-1—is off the table for Argentina. It’s unclear where Buenos Aires might look next for its fighter needs.

The KAI T-50 is a family of South Korean supersonic advanced trainers and light combat aircraft, developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) with Lockheed Martin. The T-50 has been further developed into aerobatic and combat variants, namely T-50B, TA-50, and FA-50. The FA-50 is a combat version of the T-50 training aircraft. This aircraft, in turn, was developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin and therefore has similarities with the F-16 fighter. Among the weapons it can carry are the AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile, smart bombs and air-to-ground missiles, plus an internal 20 mm cannon.

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