Doubling the production capacity for a single aircraft type shows that KAI is confident in the future of the FA-50 platform. Just recently, KAI released a roadmap showcasing its plan to continue developing the FA-50 platform into the future. In addition to European, Asian, and Middle Eastern markets, KAI is eyeing the United States as its next major customer. KAI officials are optimistic that they will be able to secure a large contract from the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy for up to 500 FA-50 aircraft. Although the U.S. Air Force previously selected the Boeing-Saab T-7A Red Hawk for its T-X program, the project has been met with continued delays and cost overruns.
The U.S. Navy recently released a Request for Information (RFI) for its Undergraduate Jet Training System (UJTS) program to replace the aging McDonnell Douglas T-45 Goshawk advanced trainers. The UJTS program places great emphasis on a delivery timeline, which KAI believes it will be able to meet. KAI officials believe they’ll have good news by the end of 2025. Additionally, the U.S. Air Force has requirements for 128 aircraft for its Advanced Tactical Trainer (ATT) program, and the US Navy has a separate requirement of 60–70 aircraft for its Tactical Surrogate Aircraft (TSA) program.
The FA-50 is a light combat aircraft (LCA) manufactured by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) for the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF). The FA-50 aircraft can carry a weapons load of up to 4.5t. The aircraft can be armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles, AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground tactical missiles (AGM), GBU-38/B Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), CBU-105 Sensor Fused Weapon (SFW), Mk-82 Low Drag General Purpose (LDGP) bombs and Cluster Bomb Units (CBUs). The aircraft is also mounted with an internal, three-barrel 20mm Gatling gun and LAU-3/A 19-tube 2.75? rocket launcher for firing Folding-Fin Aerial Rockets (FFAR). The FA-50 platform will be integrated with Lockheed Martin’s Sniper advanced electro-optical targeting pod (ATP).
The FA-50 measures 13.14m in length, 9.45m in width, and 4.82m in height. The empty weight of the aircraft is 6.47t. It can take-off with a maximum gross weight of 12.3t. The power-plant of the KAI FA-50 aircraft integrates a General Electric F404-GE-102 turbofan engine developing 17,700lbf of thrust with afterburner. The engine’s performance is controlled by dual-channel full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system. The fuel is supplied from the internal fuel tanks. The aircraft can carry 568L of additional fuel in its external fuel tank. The power plant provides a maximum speed of 1,837.5km/h (Mach 1.5). KAI FA-50’s tandem glass cockpit can carry two crew members. It is equipped with a wide field of view HUD), colour MFDs, HOTAS and zero-zero ejection seat.