SHAH ALAM: South Koreans Say Thunder is favourite. A South Korean newspaper has reported that the Korean Aerospace Industries FA-50 and the Sino-Pakistani JF-17 Thunder have been shortlisted for RMAF Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme.
The Korea Times even quoted sources as saying that the FA-50 was behind the Thunder in the race as it “possess better mid-range weapons which is a requirement for the Malaysian Air Force.” It must be noted that the mid range weapons for the Thunder in Pakistani service are mainly China made ones though it has been reported that they are interesting in getting South African and Brazilian made ones. How is that is an advantage is beyond me.
The FA-50, the nation’s first domestically developed light attack aircraft, is competing against the Pakistani-Chinese jointly manufactured JF-17 fighter for the Malaysian Air Force’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) program, under which Kuala Lumpur seeks to purchase 18 jets to replace its aging MiG-29 fleet, according to sources, Sunday.
“Despite interest from a diverse group of manufacturers, the FA-50 and JF-17 are the finalists,” the source said.
The FA-50 is a variant of the T-50 supersonic trainer jet, manufactured by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI).
Since its first deployment in October 2013, 60 FA-50s are operated by the Korean Air Force. In addition, the FA-50 has been exported to Iraq, the Philippines and Thailand.
This is an interesting development as the South Korean newspaper and its sources -likely Koreans as well – didn’t even consider CAATSA as a hindrance for the selection of the Thunder.
The rather negative position taken by the South Koreans are interesting compared to the more positive ones taken by the Indians when in come to the LCA programme.
It is interesting to note as well that Pakistan has become an important market for a Malaysian car manufacturer. Whether or not this development bodes well for the Thunder is beyond me.
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