The Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) celebrated the roll-out ceremony of the FA-50GF, the first combat aircraft exported to Poland, at its headquarters in Sacheon, Gyeongsangnam-do. 

With a turnaround time of just eight months since the contract signing, KAI’s manufacturing, coupled with support from the Ministry of National Defense, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, and the Republic of Korea Air Force, has paved the way for enhanced military capabilities and bilateral relations between Poland and South Korea.

Unfamiliar and foreign ties

Poland and South Korea have worked together when exchanging military equipment within the last few months. The Polish Ministry of National Defence announced that Hyundai Rotem delivered seven K2 Black Panther tanks to the Polish Army the previous month, whilst Poland unveiled a South Korean Chunmoo rocket launcher pod mounted on a Polish Jelcz truck.

According to a GlobalData analyst briefing titled “The global ambitions of the South Korean defence industry“, Tristan Sauer claimed: “The Korean defence industry’s first contract negotiation with a European client was an unequivocal success, with Poland having agreed last month to a $14.5bn deal for the procurement of 580 K2 main battle tanks (MBT), 670 K9A1 SPHs and 48 FA-50 fighter aircraft by 2030.”

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Attended by approximately 100 guests, including CEO KANG Goo-young of KAI, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Mariusz Błaszcza of the National Defense of Poland, Minister LEE Jong-sup of the National Defense of the Republic of Korea, and high-ranking military officials. 

The FA-50GF, nicknamed “Gap Filler,” replaces Poland’s ageing air fighters, ensuring timely modernisation and bolstering the nation’s military strategies.

Following the upcoming flight test, scheduled for completion by the end of July, the FA-50GF will be ready for deployment starting in August. The first batch of 12 FA-50GFs is expected to be delivered to Poland by the end of 2023, fulfilling the commitment made by KAI.

Contributing to the development of Poland’s air force

Expressing his gratitude to the stakeholders involved, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Mariusz Błaszcza of the National Defense of Poland emphasised the positive impact of the FA-50GF on Poland’s military modernisation efforts. 

He stated, “Thanks to the speedy release of the FA-50GF, Poland can now equip itself with advanced military strategies and pursue our vision of a modernised defence force. I eagerly anticipate witnessing the FA-50GF soaring through Poland’s airspace.”

The contract between KAI and Poland stipulates the delivery of 36 FA-50 PLs (Poland) out of a maximum of 48, starting from the second half of 2025 until 2028. The FA-50PL represents an upgraded version of the FA-50, incorporating specifications based on the needs and requirements of the Polish Air Force. 

Noteworthy enhancements include an extended range through aerial refuelling capabilities, advanced active electronically scanned array (AESA) technology, and upgraded air-to-surface and air-to-air weaponry. These improvements are expected to contribute to the development of the Air Force of Poland.

Designed for multiple mission types, including unique tactics and fighter duties, the FA-50PL offers compatibility with other aircraft, particularly the F-16, making it an ideal platform for training in preparation for 5th-generation jets such as the F-35. 

As the FA-50GF is unveiled and progress continues toward delivering subsequent FA-50PLs, the collaboration between KAI, the Republic of Korea, and Poland signifies a landmark in their bilateral defence cooperation.