AIN: KAI developing upgrades for FA-50 LCA, looks for new and follow-on orders

KAI FA-50 Light Combat Aircraft of the Philippine Air Force.

South Korean aircraft manufacturer Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) confirmed that they are developing upgrades for their FA-50 Golden Eagle light combat aircraft, which will enable the aircraft to perform better in air-to-ground and air-to-air combat missions, according to an exclusive report by AIN with KAI Senior Manager and Chief of Strategy Development and Integration Team Derik Shin.

KAI has started development of the FA-50 Block 10 upgrade, which will allow the aircraft to integrate the Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-33 Sniper targeting pod, which allows the aircraft to self-designate targets and allow the use of laser-guided munitions.

KAI also revealed that another upgrade program known as the FA-50 Block 20 is already being prepared for this year, which will allow the FA-50 to conduct beyond visual range air-to-air missions by increasing the power output of the existing Elta EL/M-2032 fire control radar to increase its range from 70 kilometers to more than 100 kilometers, while also allowing the use of BVRAA missiles like the AIM-120 AMRAAM.

For both Block 10 and Block 20 upgrade, there is no physical modifications needed, and will mostly involve software upgrade, and in the case of the Block 10 upgrade, KAI hopes to complete the development by 2021.

Mr. Shin’s interview with AIN also confirmed that the Block 10 is to be promoted to a current FA-50 user in Southeast Asia “who is looking for more jets”. Currently, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia are users of the T-50 family although only the Philippines is using the FA-50 light combat aircraft variant. The Philippines has also previously indicated its plan to acquire more FA-50s.

Based on previous announcements and reports, all 3 countries are also looking to procure advance fighter aircraft like the Lockheed Martin F-16 and Saab Gripen, and are also considering the acquisition of additional T-50/FA-50 aircraft from KAI.

In addition, Malaysia is also being considered as a possible market for the FA-50 as it looks for a Light Combat Aircraft requirement and has sent a Request for Information (RFI) to KAI this month for 12 aircraft, with an option for 24 more.

Asia Pacific Defense Journal previously reported that India’s Hindustan Aerospace Ltd (HAL) has been asked by Malaysia to bring in their Tejas Mk. 1 light combat aircraft to the upcoming Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace defense exhibition (LIMA 2019).  It was confirmed that the HAL Tejas is competing with the KAI FA-50, and the JF-17 Thunder.

[1] Aviation International News Online
[2] IHS Jane’s
[3] Shephard Media
[4] Flight Global
[5] Asia Pacific Defense Journal

AIN: KAI developing upgrades for FA-50 LCA, looks for new and follow-on orders AIN: KAI developing upgrades for FA-50 LCA, looks for new and follow-on orders Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on January 25, 2019 Rating: 5


  1. on the 2014 i had been frequently commenting regarding the future upgrade of kai fa50 .. but it was controlled by u.s. thru Lockheed accordingly there pushing F16 upgrade in the market ... there was supposed a single crew fa50 for fuel expansion.. bvr configured, refuelling option, it is same size with G414 engine.. can be fitted with G414 engine mach2 .. because there was the upcoming competition from Tehas/ JF17/ yakoliv30 etc... and kai also expecting the TX USAF contractor/supplier but was not happened...

    1. US wanted to control compitations against F16 so KIA FA-50 can not surpass its capabilities.therefore countries has to invent produce their own tech. products.

    2. Israel,Sweden,Brazil, had invented produced figther jets using other countries technology hence their market is limited subject approval US UK .THAT Is market control monopoly.we have to aquire independent technology to modernize.