Malaysia to Examine FA-50 as Potential Light Combat Aircraft Option

Malaysia has sent a preliminary Request for Information (RFI) to South Korea’s Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) regarding its FA-50 Golden Eagle light attack aircraft.

The RFI for the FA-50 relates to the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s proposed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) procurement initiative. This procurement was outlined in the RMAF’s “Capability 55” (CAP55) future force structure program.

The CAP55 plan calls for the RMAF’s fast jet fleet to shrink to just two types in five squadrons by 2055: the multirole combat aircraft (MRCA) made up of two squadrons, and a Light Combat Aircraft/fighter lead-in trainer (LCA/FLIT) type involving three squadrons. The FA-50, which is an armed derivative of KAI’s T-50 advanced jet trainer, would ostensibly fill the latter requirement.

The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA/FLIT) platform involves a low-end, single-engine fighter/attack aircraft that will serve as a lead-in fighter trainer, making the aircraft a two-for-one type providing both capability and value for the RMAF. The economic value of such a platform is a crucial element for the service, which has seen its MRCA program – involving a swing fighter capable of both air-to-air combat and anti-ship capability – repeatedly pushed to the right due to financial pressures.

If it were to procure the FA-50, the RMAF would join regional neighbor the Philippines in operating the type as a low-end combat aircraft.


About Daniel Darling

Dan Darling is Forecast International’s director of military and defense markets. In this role, Dan oversees a team of analysts tasked with covering everything from budgeting to weapons systems to defense electronics and military aerospace. Additionally, for over 17 years Dan has, at various times, authored the International Military Markets reports for Europe, Eurasia, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. Dan's work has been cited in Defense News, Real Clear Defense, Asian Military Review, Al Jazeera, and Financial Express, among others, and he has also contributed commentary to The Diplomat, The National Interest and World Politics Review. He has been quoted in Arabian Business, the Financial Times, Flight International, The New York Times, Bloomberg and National Defense Magazine. In addition, Dan has made guest appearances on the online radio show Midrats and on The Media Line, as well as The Red Line Podcast, plus media appearances on France 24 and World Is One News (WION).

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