FA-50 Light Combat Aircraft, South Korea

The FA-50 aircraft can carry a weapons load of up to 4.5t

The FA-50 is a new light combat aircraft manufactured by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), for the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF). It is a light combat version of the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft.

Development of the FA-50 combat aircraft began in October 1997. Six prototypes were built during the development phase that concluded in January 2006.

The FA-50 was awarded military type certificate by the Korean Military Aircraft Airworthiness Committee (MAAC) in October 2012. It is the first fighter-class military aircraft to receive the MAAC certification.

The indigenously developed FA-50 light attack aircraft will replace the ROKAF's ageing fighter fleet of F-5E/F and A-37 aircraft. The FA-50 will also strengthen the defence capability of the ROKAF.

Orders and deliveries of the FA-50

Korea Aerospace Industries was awarded a $600m contract by the Defence Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) in December 2011 for the production and supply of 20 FA-50 aircraft to the ROKAF by 2014.

DAPA placed a KRW1.1 trillion ($1bn) follow-on serial production contract with KAI for the FA-50 aircraft in May 2013. The deliveries are expected to start in the second half of 2013 and the full operational deployment of the FA-50 fleet with the ROKAF is scheduled for 2016.

Features of the light combat aircraft

"It is a light combat version of the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft."

The FA-50, which is based on the T-50 supersonic advanced trainer platform, is offered as an affordable and efficient supersonic advanced light attack platform.

The combat aircraft is intended to meet the light fighter requirements of air forces around the world. The advanced radar provides the FA-50 with detection capability which is similar to that of the KF-16 fighter.

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. The aircraft can take-off with a maximum gross weight of 12.3t.

FA-50 light combat aircraft cockpit and avionics

The tandem glass cockpit of the FA-50 can carry two crew members. It is equipped with wide field of view head-up display (HUD), colour multifunction displays (MFDs), digital engine instrumentation, Hands On Throttle-And-Stick (HOTAS), integrated up-front controls and zero-zero ejection seat.

"The wide range of weapon systems aboard the FA-50 allows it to counter multiple threats."

The flight control systems include digital fly-by-wire, active stick, electrical emergency power unit, digital break-by-wire and triple redundant electrical system.

The cockpit also integrates an On-Board Oxygen Generation Systems (OBOGS). The Night Vision Imaging System (NVIS) aboard the aircraft ensures mission capability during day and night.

The avionics package consists of embedded Inertial Navigation System/Global Positioning System (INS/GPS), integrated mission computer, identification, friend or foe (IFF), radar altimeter, multimode radar, store management system, UHF/VHF radio, tactical data link, data transfer and recording system, Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and Counter Measure Dispensing System (CMDS).

Weapon systems on the South Korean aircraft

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 wide range of weapon systems aboard the FA-50 allows it to counter multiple threats in today's complex battlefield scenario.

FA-50 aircraft engines and performance

The power-plant of the 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).

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