Poland to buy Korean FA-50s: $58 million for a light fighter without long-range weapons

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Warsaw continues to arm itself and spend enormous amounts of money on new and state-of-the-art military equipments such as South Korean FA-50 fighters.

Poland and Korea has recently signed a new defense deal, continuing series of multimillion-dollar orders for K2 tanks and K9 artillery systems.

Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak approved two contracts for Korean FA-50 light fighters. The first, for 12 FA-50 Block 10, has a cost of 700 million dollars. The second for 36 in the FA-50PL version, which will provide the localization of production and expansion of the warmachine capabilities, cost Warsaw 2.3 billion dollars.

Thus, one single unit of FA-50 Block 10 light fighter, which does not have a full range of weapons, will formally cost $58.3 million per unit.

It should be noted that the integration of such missiles as AIM-120 for air combat, as well as the Joint Strike Missile and Taurus KEPD 350 cruise missiles is planned only in the FA-50 Block 20 version. Previously, it was believed that these fighters would be purchased in this version. But the first batch comes in a much simpler, from the point of view of combat capabilities, version – FA-50 Block 10. This aircraft can only use AIM-9, unguided rockets and bombs, including high-precision ones.

At the same time, considering everything, it is in the FA-50PL version, the cost of which is formally $63.8 million per unit, and the entire range of weapons will be integrated. And the main thing is the radar complex AN/APG-83 (standard for the F-16V) or AN/APG-84, which is also planned for installation on the F-16 and F/A-18.

According to Warsaw’s plan, it is the Korean FA-50s that should completely replace the MiG-29s that are in service with the Polish Air Force. And the choice of this aircraft is explained by the fact that the cost per flight hour of the this Korean aircraft is 5 times less than the F-16 and 6-7 times less than the F-35. This will allow it to be used more actively for regular air patrols.

The cost of the boards turned out to be higher than previously expected. In particular, the total cost of the order for 48 aircraft was estimated at 1.9-2.4 billion dollars, excluding the costs of infrastructure, logistics and training. That is, 40-50 million dollars for one FA-50. At the same time, it was believed that FA-50 Block 20 would be purchased.

But it is quite likely that the contract includes the cost of maintenance, deployment of ground infrastructure, training and other related services. Also, the value of the contract could reflect the fact that 12 FA-50 Block 10 should be delivered during 2023. But in any case, the cost of this purchase can be a guideline for understanding the modern value of aircraft.

For comparison, let’s recall that in 2019 Slovakia ordered 14 F-16V Block 70/72 fighters , the total cost of the contract was $1.8 billion, to which was added the cost of weapons, additional equipment, spare parts, training of 22 pilots and 160 ground crew members. Due to delays in the execution of the contract, Bratislava expects the first machines under this contract in 2024.

About the FA-50 Light Combat Aircraft

According to the official website of the Korea Aerospace Industries, Based on the T-50 trainer’s superior performance and an armament storing capability, the FA-50 aircraft is further developed and upgraded with Tactical Data Link, Precision Guided Munitions, and Self Protection subsystem. Featuring a fighter jet-class flight performance, the FA-50 aircraft has been deployed and operated in the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) since 2013.

Some Key Points of this aircraft are…

1) Advanced Digital Cockpit for Day/Night, and all weather missions.

2) Integrated Combat Systems for Multi-role Combat Missions, high-performance, multi-functional radar with long-range detection, advanced self-protection systems.

3) Digital Flight Control System, the jet is equipped with a OBOGGS System (On-board Oxygen Generation System), also the jet has a triplex Electric System that secures good flight safety

4) The aircraft can be loaded with a wide number of advanced weapons such as JDAM Precision-guided Munitions, SUU-20 Dispenser, Mk-82 500 LBS GP Bomb, AGM-65 Maverick Air-to-surface missile, AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missile and a 20mm three-barreled gun.

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