08/03/2024 01:06 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 (Bernama) -- Six Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) pilots are expected to commence intensive training to operate the FA-50M light combat aircraft in early 2026.

According to an industry source, the intensive training for RMAF pilots will last for three to six months, depending on the performance of the pilots, at a Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) airbase in Gwangju, Korea.

"The intensive training will use the T-50 Golden Eagle advanced trainer aircraft developed jointly by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Lockheed Martin from the United States.

"Only after training with the T-50 Golden Eagle advanced trainer aircraft will they (RMAF pilots) transition to operating the actual FA-50M light combat aircraft acquired by the country," said the source who declined to disclose his identity.

At the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) last May, the Ministry of Defence and South Korea's leading aerospace company, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), signed a contract worth RM4 billion to acquire 18 FA-50M light combat aircraft.

The FA-50M light combat aircraft to be acquired by the RMAF is the most modern variant, known as the FA-50 Block 20, and boasts superior capabilities compared to other variants obtained by other countries, including South Korea and several Southeast Asian nations.

The FA-50/T-50 light combat aircrafts manufactured by South Korea are also used by the air forces of Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines in Southeast Asia.

Speaking to Bernama in Langkawi last May, Kang Goo-Young, CEO of KAI, explained that the FA-50 Block 20 variant (FA-50M) acquired by Malaysia is more advanced and capable compared to the FA-50 variant operated by the ROKAF.

Among the main differences between Malaysia's FA-50M variant and others is that the RMAF's light combat aircraft will be equipped with an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, various state-of-the-art electronic components, and in-flight refuelling probes.

The FA-50M variant to be owned by the RMAF will also have the capability to launch guided bullets and high-precision bombs (Precision Guided Munitions).

Meanwhile, the industry source also informed Bernama that the first group of four FA-50M light combat aircraft will begin to be received by the RMAF in October 2026, followed by the remaining 14 aircraft in stages.

"The delivery of the FA-50M aircraft to the RMAF is expected to be completed by 2028," he said.






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