Malaysia’s decision to purchase 18 FA-50 Block 20 “Fighting Eagle” light combat aircraft will pave the way for the country to become the preferred Maintenance, Refurbishment and Overhaul (MRO) hub for other users of the combat aircraft in the region.

Speaking exclusively to Bernama via a translator, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) chief executive officer Kang Goo-Young said more than 100 T-50/FA-50 combat aircraft are currently used by the region’s air forces namely Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Malaysia is the latest entrant to South East Asia’s T-50/FA-50 club.

“As part of the Industrial Collaboration Programme (ICP), the final assembly of the combat aircraft bought by Malaysia will be done in Malaysia. So out of the 18 (FA-50 Block 20 procured by Malaysia) four will be totally made in South Korea while the rest of the 14 aircraft will be assembled here (in Malaysia) with close technical coordination between Malaysia and Korea.

“There are some areas of technical support that we will be providing and one of them is maintenance capabilities…then the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) will have capabilities to operate a MRO hub in the country and to also serve other Asian countries that are operating KAI products,” he said.

Kang was met on the sidelines of 16th Edition of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA ‘23) which kicked off yesterday.

On the delivery date of Malaysia’s FA-50 Block 20, the head of South Korea’s aerospace giant disclosed that the company will gradually start delivering the combat aircraft to RMAF beginning from October 2026.

Elaborating on Malaysia’s potential to become the MRO hub for T-50/FA-50 users in the region, Kang said, adding another batch of 18 FA-50 to RMAF will cement the country’s position as the hub for the light combat aircraft users in the region.

Following its initial purchase of 18 FA-50 Block 20, Malaysia’s Ministry of Defence is expected to follow up with the second batch of another 18 units of the Fighting Eagles, as what is stipulated by the RMAF’s CAP 55 programme.

Under the CAP 55 (Capability 2055) programme, RMAF plans to have 36 light combat aircraft. February this year saw Malaysia sign a Letter of Acceptance with KAI to procure 18 FA-50 Block 20 light combat aircraft worth US$920 million.

KAI is South Korea’s sole aircraft manufacturer.

With the latest deal, the South Korean aerospace giant has sold 68 KT-1 basic and T-50 advanced trainer jets, as well as FA-50 aircraft to South-East Asian countries.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency