The Joneses…Poland Buying FA-50s From South Korea

Korean Aerospace Industries FA-50PH. KAI

SHAH ALAM: The Joneses. Polish media is reporting that the government has signed contracts for the procurement of various arms from South Korea including 1000 K2PL main battle tanks; 679 K9 Self Propelled Howitzers and interestingly for us, 48 Korean Aerospace KAI FA-50 PL light fighters.

The FA-50 order is divided in two batches; 12 in the current Block 10 version and supposedly to be delivered by 2023 and the other 36 in the Block 20 version. The Block 20 version supposedly will be equipped with the Northrop Grumman SABR AESA radar; Sniper EO; AIM-9X and AIM-120 missiles and Link 16 data link.

PAF FA-50 model armed with mock-ups of the Maverick missiles, bomblet dispensers and Sidewinders.

The Block 20 configuration sure seemed to fit RMAF requirements for its future LCA. The big order from Poland – the biggest so far – however does put our supposedly delivery deadline – in 2025 – under a big question mark. Will KAI be bothered with us or will spend more time on its bigger customer, one which might pay in cash instead of haggling over the barter payment? Or we will be buying a completely different aircraft?
Korean Aerospace Industries FA-50PH. KAI

Another thing to highlight of the Polish deal for the FA-50 – so far – does not include any transfer or technology or even local assembly (apart from the planned upgrade work for the 12 Block 10 will be upgraded to Block 20 in Poland). Local assembly is part of the deal for the K2 and K9 procurement though after the initial batch are procured directly from South Korea.
Indonesian Air Force KAI T-50Is. Indonesian Air Force

With a large land based defence industry and the large number of hulls procured, it make sense for Poland to local assemble the K2s and K9s.
K9 Thunder and K10 ARV. Hanwha.

But here in Malaysia with an even smaller defence industrial footprint, lower numbers and even lower budget, the mantra is always been TOT and local assembly. It is like we are planning to fail even though the last 30 years had shown that it is not in the national interest to link arms procurement with economic development.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2147 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. If RMAF confirmed 36 aircraft with additional numbers with other purchases includes choper and with guns and tanks for army and corvettes for navy, small to medium budget event with barter deal and tot with small medium defence industry footprint, why not if if it is a real deal…

  2. Read this too earlier on DSA. I am just ‘conjecturing’ this latest news will expedite the end process of getting the FA50s or Tejas for RMAF what with H2O saying he’ll leave it to RMAF to determine the aircraft type and he’ll handle the MoF after the purchase is agreed. (At least that’s what I thought) And interesting read that the Polish is said to be getting the FA50 Block 20.
    Does that mean we won’t be footing the development bill of Block 20 as some are saying here if we are the initial users of that Block?

  3. With so much TOT and local assembly there won’t be enough money to buy 36 planes and other stuff. Most of the money will be used to pay for the TOT and other stuff which ultimately lined up the pockets of the cronies and their masters

  4. waste money buying blueprint. Don’s know for what. Even if we receive the blue print, so what?

  5. “does not include any transfer or technology”
    I do think its not that they don’t want to but the they are desperate for planes due to Russia and the timelines will not jive with local assembly and whatnot. They do have “an” aviation industry, with PZL Mielec the international assembler for S70i and they upgrade their own Migs.

    So Marhalim, let me ask again is it worth defending the local defence industry when the returns are just not there?

    It is fine to have certain local involvement when there is volume and a consistent buys; ie multi year assemblies of hundreds of armoured vehicles, rifle & small arms making, webbing & clothing, but things like small volume high tech planes or expensive ammos which are not consumed on a consistently regular basis cannot be justified and will just “ultimately lined up the pockets of the cronies and their masters”.

  6. There is no consistent buy that’s our biggest issue as money is always tight. Furthermore as always only cronies got this kind of gig. What ever other countries do is their own business. Its their money

  7. They are damm rich..ofcz maybe have uncle Sam sponsor to counter the Russian.

  8. “our biggest issue as money is always tight”
    Exactly. We don’t have enough to spend on yet whatever we spent is not used efficiently so why should we have a parasitic local defence industry? OTOH can our rakyat stomach throwing RM 15-16Bil annually into a blackhole for defence expenditure with no economic returns if we spend efficiently but zero local involvement? Can we hope/expect our selfish selfserving politicians not to politicise such spendings even during such a time as economic tightening today?

    Nope Poland’s GDP is roughly about the same as ours. Relative terms they are not richer nor poorer of course in context of the EU they are less affluent. In reality not all EU countries are “rich” especially those Eastern EU. But indeed the massive purchase is sponsored by Uncle Sam since Poland is a NATO nation and a bulwark to Russia’s border.

  9. Michael,

    They have a clear and present threat in which they can focus their attention and resources on and they don’t have a voter base which is indifferent to defence.

  10. We have to wait until the threat is as clear as day only to get the preparation ready as if military acquisition can be completed in just a day. Let’s completely forget about the trainings and weapon familiarization, etc, because who cares. Lmao.

    Just like during the capture of Malacca by the Portuguese. We only bought the weapons from the Javanese & Gujaratis when the threat is imminent but we didn’t even know how to operate them properly. Instead we chose to fight with the traditional javelins/keris/etc combined with ambush/guerilla style and lose badly despite having the numbers.

    Apologies for the nonsensical rambling. I don’t actually know what I’m talking about obviously. I just feel bad for our troops is all. Bye.

  11. If Poland is asking for the SABR on its FA-50 and willing to pay it, I dont think there is any reason Lockheed Martin will not allow it. Yes, the SABR is a Northrop Grumman product but Lockheed Martin do not have a competing product to cause any drama

  12. Hafiez- “Instead we chose to fight with the traditional javelins/keris/etc combined with ambush/guerilla style and lose badly despite having the numbers”

    In 1511 what choice did we have? It’s not as if we were spoiled for choice with flintslocks and cannon [the tactics employed were also ones routinely used against other local threats].. The main threat then was other local groups who were similarly armed; not troops from a major Western power [which Portugal was in the 16th century]. You will also have noticed that it was not only “us” but locals in other countries which performed badly when pitted against much better armed Western troops.

  13. Because they have two aircraft manufacturers, one own by Lockheed Martin and the other Leonardo. They have two aircraft factories as a legacy of the old communist regime.They are buying the AW149 after cancelling the order for the same number H225M from Airbus. Of course the industry went ballistic when the previous government ordered the Airbus helicopters. I have no issues with Poland having two aircraft manufacturers. Its their money.

  14. @Hafiez
    The Portuguese were the superpower of that era then. You can say the Malaccans were badly armed but even if they had sufficient cannons & guns, the Portuguese had Man o Wars, the equivalent of supercarriers today. Irregardless how much they could have spent and armed themselves there is no stopping a superpower, not then and certainly not now. So it is pointless to try and uparm ourselves in order to fight a superpower, we simply just can’t. What we can do is to keep pace with the procurement & advancement of our neighbours then let our nonligned policy and diplomacy handle countries far superior to us.

  15. In 1511 the Malaccans possessed several thousand cannon and hand held firearms of various sizes. Being fairly powerful relative to their neighbours, they had access to certain arms and had the economic means to purchase them. How effectively they were able to operate them and what difference it could have made is another matter.

    As in nature, you evolve according to what there is in your environment. If a relatively unfamiliar threat appears, it could offset any material or home ground advantage you may have.

  16. AM – “In 1511 the Malaccans possessed several thousand cannon and hand held firearms of various sizes”

    I’m surprised they had this number [at Waterloo some 300 years later Napoleon had less than 200 cannon] and I’m surprised they were even a few thousand Melakan combatants to operate the “several thousand cannon and hand held firearms”.

  17. Azlan –

    There is always the possibility of the number being exaggerated or lost in translation. But in any case it was apparently a large number. The largest number cited is 8,000, which I can see why is hard to believe.

    As to how they could have had this number of cannon and operators, the accounts state that many were brought by and operated by mercenaries who had been brought in from the region and beyond. The Malaccans had only come to know of cannon a short time before 1511 so would not have developed the means to have operated their own cannon or countered enemy cannon in such a short time- apparently they had no ramparts to defend against cannon before they were constructed entirely by the mercenaries, and even then the Portuguese cannon fire came as a shock.

  18. The most glaring mystery about the fall of Kota melaka is the missing Malaccan navy fleet. No history books or pictures drawn by the Portuguese about the event showed any malay vessels.

    Maybe they too suffered a 61% “aset usang” problem.

  19. AM,

    Everything depends on the sources: written by the locals or Portugese? Written immediately after the events or years later when memories has faded? Based on third person accounts and a popular narrative or actual discussions with these who were there? I know the Portugese did leave written accounts [some survive in the archives] – whether they’re reliable is a different issue.

    From this period in history I know a bit about the 100 Years War; War Of The Roses; 30 Years War, etc, but very little about Melaka.

  20. I’m not sure of today’s history / Sejarah textbooks. But during my time, it was mentioned the Portuguese had a smaller but superior force than Malacca. After Malacca was conquered, Portugal wasn’t displaced until 1641, by anther European power, the Dutch (with help from Malacca’s successor, Johor). If I recall, it was mentioned the Portuguese (and Europeans) were heavy users of gunpowder while Malacca was not. Malacca was a regional power that depended on Imperial China for protection (also mentioned in the textbook) against other regional powers (notably Siam). From Imperial China’s side, they viewed Malacca as a tributary state. At least that was the Sejarah textbook from my time.

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