KAI FA-50 FA-50 light combat aircraft (LCA) firing ASRAAM missile.
KAI FA-50 FA-50 light combat aircraft (LCA) firing ASRAAM missile.

MBDA Offers ASRAAM and Brimstone Missiles for Royal Malaysian Air Force FA-50 LCA

The European multinational developer and manufacturer of missiles MBDA showcased a range of missiles at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) 2023 Exhibition, including those it is offering for Malaysia’s FA-50 light combat aircraft (LCA). On 24 February 2023, KAI announced the signing of a $920 million deal with the Malaysian Ministry of Defence for the purchase of 18 FA-50 Block 20 for the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s light combat aircraft (LCA) and fighter in-lead trainer (FLIT) tender, which is intended to replace the Aermacchi MB-339 and Hawk Mk 108/208 currently in service. On 23 May 2023, Malaysia signed a $920 million final contract with KAI to purchase 18 FA-50 Block 20s. KAI officials said Malaysia is willing to order 18 more FA-50s later.

The FA-50, a multi-role aircraft modeled after the T-50 Golden Eagle advanced trainer aircraft, underscores KAI’s expanding global footprint in the aerospace industry. The Royal Malaysian Air Force and the Polish Air Force variant of FA-50 Block 20 will be equipped with new capabilities not found in any other variants, such as the “PhantomStrike” AESA radar developed by US firm, Raytheon, Chobham air-refuelling probe and “Sniper” advanced targeting pod (ATP), among others. The FA-50 can be externally fitted with Rafael’s Sky Shield or LIG Nex1’s ALQ-200K ECM pods or LITENING targeting pods, and Condor 2 reconnaissance pods to further improve the fighter’s electronic warfare, reconnaissance, and targeting capabilities.

Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM). (Photo by MBDA)

The Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM), also known by its United States designation AIM-132, is an imaging infrared homing (heat seeking/FOX2 type) air-to-air missile, produced by MBDA UK, that is designed for close-range combat. It is in service in the Royal Air Force (RAF), replacing the AIM-9 Sidewinder. ASRAAM is designed to allow the pilot to fire and then turn away before the opposing aircraft can close for a shot. It flies at well over Mach 3 to ranges in excess of 25 kilometres (16 mi). In February 2018, MBDA in Singapore air show showcased an offer of its ASRAAM medium and short-range air-to-air missiles available for integration for the KAI platforms FA-50 and future KF-X fighter jets.

Brimstone is a ground or air-launched ground attack missile developed by MBDA UK for the UK’s Royal Air Force. It was originally intended for “fire-and-forget” use against mass formations of enemy armour, using a millimetre wave (mmW) active radar homing seeker to ensure accuracy even against moving targets. Brimstone has a 6.3 kg (14 lb) tandem shaped-charge warhead employing a smaller initial charge around 100 g (0.22 lb), designed to initiate reactive armour, followed by a larger, more destructive 6.2 kg (14 lb) charge, designed to penetrate and defeat the base armour. It was estimated that Brimstone would be several times more effective than the AGM-65G Maverick against modern tanks, and 20 times more effective than the BL755 cluster bomb.

Brimstone air-launched ground attack missile (Photo by MBDA)