Updates On The FA-50PL And Poland’s Interest in KF-21 Block II



ROKAF FA-50 #004 Prototype with Cobham Probe Attachment for PAF FA-50PL (Picture credit score: KAI by way of Twitter account @hornetysfs))

The primary modified FA-50 with aerial refueling equipment broke cowl lately.

On April 21, 2023, Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) launched new footage of their first modified FA-50 with the aerial refuelling equipment attachment. Supposed for Poland’s second batch of Golden Eagles, the FA-50PL Block 20, the aerial refuelling equipment provided by Cobham UK has lastly been built-in into the airframe and is scheduled to bear flight testing in Sacheon, Korea earlier than the meeting of FA-50PLs begin later round 2025

Following the failed T-50 from the USAF T-X program, that is now the second variant of the T-50 to have an aerial refuelling attachment. Whereas the T-X prototype promised a dorsal Flying Growth attachment, the FA-50PL is supplied with a Probe system mounted on the starboard facet vanguard extension. Opposite to preliminary CAD drawings, the probe appears to simply lengthen telescopically fairly than pivot outwards. The tip of the probe appears to be uncovered even throughout stowage, suggesting a a lot less complicated design than initially speculated.

Early CAD design of Totally Retracting Probe (Screenshot from KAI Investor Day Presentation)

In keeping with KAI, an preliminary batch of 12 FA-50 Block 10s beneath the identify FA-50GF (Hole Filler) will probably be delivered to Poland by the tip of 2023. With the following batch of 36 FA-50PL Block 20s being delivered from 2025 to 2026. The FA-50GFs will later be upgraded to Block 20 requirements sooner or later, making the whole lot of Poland’s FA-50 fleet encompass the later Block 20 variant. Capabilities on the FA-50PL embody Sniper ATP pods and AIM-120 AMRAAM integration, in addition to PhantomStrike AESA radar and the aforementioned Probe and Drogue system refuelling equipment. The Probe and Drogue kind system is particularly noteworthy, as this comes with a slower gasoline switch charge, however opens potentialities for Buddy-To-Buddy refuelling.

The Polish authorities initially selected the procurement of the FA-50s attributable to the opportunity of a a lot faster supply timeline in comparison with different Western candidates such because the F-16. Consequently, KAI promised a quick supply above every little thing and thus the primary batch of FA-50GFs are anticipated to be delivered by August of this yr.

Amidst friction between the South Korea and Indonesia with the delayed fee of improvement charges for the KF-21 by the Indonesian authorities, Poland has expressed curiosity in becoming a member of the event of the KF-21 Boramae. At the moment, the KF-X program is a three way partnership between Korea and Indonesia, with the latter offering 20% of the $6.5 billion improvement value in return of permission to license construct 48 plane. Nevertheless, the Indonesian authorities halted funds from January 2019, solely to renew fee in November 2022. The nation is estimated to have a backlog of round $600 million of unpaid mission value. With the sincerity of the Indonesian authorities’s involvement in this system being questioned, Polish authorities officers have expressed curiosity in becoming a member of the KF-X program rather than Indonesia.

Throughout a current KAI manufacturing unit line go to by the Polish defence conglomerate PGZ (Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa), a comment was made relating to the Indonesian flag on the KF-21 prototype saying the Polish flag was drawn the wrong way up. Following this joking comment, the president of PGZ has said curiosity in becoming a member of the KF-X program in 2026. In keeping with the event timeline that is when the plane is scheduled to enter manufacturing and enter Block 2 improvement.

Current First Flight of KF-21 Prototype #005 (Screenshot from DAPA YouTube Channel)

In keeping with the KF-X roadmap, the KF-21 improvement is available in three distinct improve packages. The preliminary Block 0, which obtained provisional fight suitability by the Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) on 16 Might, 2023, is meant to be the prototype improvement stage earlier than preliminary procurement by the ROKAF. Block I is scheduled to be constructed from 2024 to 2028 primarily based on the suggestions from prototype testing specializing in air-to-air, in addition to together with restricted air-to-ground assault and IRST capabilities. Block II improvement is scheduled to begin in 2026 and consists of options reminiscent of upgrades to AESA radar and software program packs permitting full air-to-air/air-to-ground/air-to-surface operations.

Wonwoo is a scholar journalist and contributor to The Aviationist primarily based in London, United Kingdom. At the moment finding out MEng in Aeronautical Engineering with a eager curiosity in OSINT, aircraft recognizing and plane design. He’s a former Sergeant of the Republic of Korea Military, having served as an artillery Fireplace Route Centre Automobile Radio Operator.


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