Poland to buy South Korean FA-50 fighter jets, artillery, and tanks

Poland will produce some of the military equipment domestically

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Karol Kostrzewa
In this April 21, 2017, photo, South Korean Air Force FA-50 fighters drop bombs during a South Korea-U.S. joint military live-fire drill at Seungjin Fire Training Field in Pocheon, South Korea, near the border with North Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Poland is set to sign a deal with South Korea to purchase K2 tanks, K9 gun-howitzers and three squadrons of FA-50 fighters, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said on Friday.

The gun-howitzers and K2 tanks will reportedly arrive in Poland this year with the FA-50s set to be received in 2023.

Błaszczak explained that thanks to this deal, Poland’s defense capabilities will increase incrementally. “We are aware of the challenges that are ahead of Poland, aware of Putin’s aggressive politics and desire to restore the Russian empire,” Błaszczak pointed out. “Our goal is to deter the aggressor and strengthen Poland’s armed forces as much as possible,” he added.

The Polish minister also stressed that the deal is the result of this year’s visit to Seoul. “We will use the maximum production capabilities of the Polish defense industry,” said Błaszczak, announcing that Poland will order as many gun-howitzers as possible from the domestic defense sector.

The tanks will be produced in South Korea in the first phase, with the next components being manufactured in Poland. Błaszczak stressed that talks between Polish Armaments Group and Korean companies regarding production and their maintenance were underway.

South Korea’s FA-50 is a light, two-seat multirole aircraft, which is very similar to the American F-16 but slightly smaller. The main difference is that the FA-50 is lighter by 4 tons and can carry less equipment than the F-16; the cockpit’s layout is almost identical in both the F-16 and FA-50, and both are equipped with the same electronic “fly-by-wire” flight control system.

“The Korean side assured us that pilots trained on the F-16 need six hours to start flying on an FA-50,” said Polish General Jacek Pszczoła.

Until now, the general said, FA-50 planes have been used by five countries: South Korea, Indonesia, Iraq, the Philippines and Thailand. General Pszczoła stressed that the South Korean aircraft can successfully conduct air-to-air and air-to-ground tasks and is also capable of carrying laser-guided munitions.

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