By Bijan Razzaghi
The KAI/Lockheed Martin F/A-50 is been successfully selling in the Asian market for the past 10+ years with export sales to the Philippines while Taiwan and Argentina have also showed interest. The F/A-50 is based on the T-50 advanced trainer used by the South Korean Air Force.
The F/A-50 is a particular unique aircraft offering some advanced capabilities seen on the F-16 series while remaining affordable and easy to maintain. The F/A-50 has a EL/M-2032 pulse doppler multi mode radar allowing the aircraft to track both air and land targets. For combat operations F/A-50s can employ AIM-9 sidewinders for visual range engagements while ground targets can be engaged with the AGM-65 , Paveway series guided bombs and JDAM GPS guided bombs. The F/A-50 is limited to visual range engagements allowing them to function as point defense fighters and air to air capable close air support aircraft.
The F/A-50 is powered by a single General Electric F404 GE-102 turbofan providing the aircraft with 17,700 lbs of thrust giving the aircraft a speed of Mach 1.5 and g limit of 8. This makes the F/A-50 competitive in modern air combat maneuvering during visual engagements.
With these capabilities the F/A-50 can function as an effective support fighter for larger air forces while being the primary fighter aircraft for smaller air forces in the Asian market. The F/A-50 has been used in combat over the Philippines during counter terrorism operations. The Philippine Air Force was satisfied with the F/A-50s performance and have ordered 8 more.
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