With its sale to the Philippines, Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 fighter jet may be the answer for countries that cannot afford expensive western aircraft.
South Korea will provide the Philippines with 12 FA-50 jets worth $415.7 million. Priced at $35 million a jet, the FA-50 presumably costs lower than the JAS 39 Gripen besides lower operating cost than Swedish aircraft
The aircraft is equipped with Joint Direct Attack Munition, the Sensor-Fused Weapon and the AGM-65 Maverick. According to KAI, the FA-50 could eventually add the Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser and a host of Israeli munitions equipped with the Rafael Spice electro-optical/infrared/GPS/inertial guidance kit. It would also be able to carry the Rafael Litening II targeting pod. It is not known what weapons configuration will go with the Philippines order.
In December 2013, the Iraqi Air Force signed a $1.1 billion contract for 24 T-50 aircraft, which is the most advanced version of the FA-50, and will be able to serve both as an advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft.
Meanwhile, KAI officials recently said that their goal is to sell more than 500 FA-50 fighters over the next three decades. This number includes the 60 fighters ordered by the South Korean Air Force, which is replacing its F-5s jets. The T-50 was developed by KAI with help from Lockheed Martin and shares many design concepts with the F-16.
Many countries do not require the operational capabilities and dizzying price tags of a Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon or even the Lockheed Martin F-35. This opens the lightweight and inexpensive fighter market for countries in Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and South America.
Iraq, Peru, Poland and Chile have all been named as potential customers, according to a report in Flight Global.
The FA-50’s avionics package includes 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).