SEOUL, 22 OCT – Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan got a close-up and up-to-date briefing at the Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50 Fighting Eagle advanced jet in the South Korean capital.
Mohamad, who is attending the ‘Seoul Defence Dialogue (SDD) 2023’ and ‘Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (ADEX) 2023’, took the opportunity to review preparations for the delivery of FA-50 Block 20 Fighter Lead-In Trainer-Light Combat Aircraft (FLIT-LCA) for the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).
Last May, Malaysia reportedly signed a US$920 million deal with South Korea to initially acquire 18 of the jets for the RMAF from August 2026, with a possible purchase of an additional 18 after 2028.
A Malaysian Defence Ministry statement said Mohamad was on a two-day working visit to Seoul to discuss the direction and ways to enhance defence cooperation between the two countries.
The visit was on the invitation of the South Korea’s former National Defence Minister Lee Jong-Sup and Mohamad met with the Lee’s successor Shin Won Sik.
“Both Mohamad and Shin reaffirmed their commitment to enhance existing cooperation and explore new collaboration opportunities, including in the aspects of the military and defence industries.
“They also discussed the roles of Malaysia and the South Korea as co-chairs in the ‘Cyber Security Expert Working Group’ under the ‘Asean Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus)’,” the statement said.
Mohamad’s presence at the SDD 2023 and ADEX 2023 underscored the country’s continuing commitment to strengthen defence cooperation with the South Korea.
The statement added that Mohamad held meetings with heads of delegations from other countries.
These included Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of Australia Richard Marles, Senior Minister of State for Defence of Singapore Heng Chee How, the Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) of the United Kingdom Baroness Annabel McNicoll Goldie @ Goldie DL and Brunei’s Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and Minister of Defence II Major-General (Rtd) Datuk Paduka Seri Awang Halbi Mohd Yussof.
“He also met up with the charge d’affaires of the Malaysian embassy Nazarudin Ja’afar and department heads, to share the latest developments in Malaysia and the country’s perspectives on regional matters,” it said.
Malaysia and South Korea initiated a memorandum-of-understanding on defence cooperation last year, following it up with a letter-of-acceptance for the acquisition of the FA-50 jets last February.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that the republic saw the jet deal as a crucial chance to elevate the two countries’ bilateral defense and arms industry cooperation.
It developed with Lee attending the ‘Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) 2023’ last May, with the Republic of Korea’s Air Force displaying the FA-50B Black Eagles aerobatic team.
South Korea also sent a similar aerobatic team for LIMA 2017.
The FA-50 Fighting Eagle is a light attack fighter developed by KAI in partnership with Lockheed Martin.
It is modeled on the advanced training jet T-50 Golden Eagle.
The FA-50 is a multirole fighter variant of the ‘T-50’ line of aircraft, which comprises supersonic trainers, light combat aircraft and multirole fighters.
The FA-50 is 13.14 metres long, has a 9.45 metres wingspan, has a maximum take-off mass of 12,215kg, is powered by a General Electric F404 turbofan engine providing over 8,000kg thrust and has a maximum speed being Mach 1.5.
The aircraft is capable of carrying a weapons payload of 4.5 tons, comprising a variety of AIM-9 Sidewinder, AGM-65 Maverick, GBU-38/B, CBU-105 Sensor Fused Weapons, Mk-82 LDGP bombs and Cluster Bomb units.
The aircraft is equipped with an internal three-barrel 20mm Gatling gun and an LAU-3/A 19-tube 2.75in rocket launcher to fire Folding-Fin Aerial Rockets (FFAR).
The FA-50 is propelled by a GE F404 turbofan engine with an afterburner that provides an output of 17,700 pound-force.
Other than Malaysia, the Philippines and Iraq have also purchased the FA50, which first saw combat during the ‘Battle of Marawi’ in the Philippines against terrorists linked to ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham). – airtimes.my
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