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.