Poland and South Korea held an official unveiling ceremony for the Polish Air Force’s first FA-50 light fighters in Sacheon on June 7.
South Korea is building the fighters for Poland under a contract from September last year. Out of a total of 48 airframes ordered, 12 aircraft will be delivered to the Polish armed forces this year.
“We are getting rid of post-Soviet aircraft, and from now on, Polish combat aviation will only use F-16 and FA-50 aircraft, and soon also F-35,” Poland deputy prime minister and defense minister Mariusz Błaszczak said at the official roll out ceremony.
“Our pilots have already completed their first FA-50 training in the Republic of Korea and will soon be ready to smoothly switch to using the new type of equipment,” Błaszczak added.
FA-50, a light combat variant of the T-50 platform, can carry an internally-mounted cannon, as well as a range of weapons that can be mounted on hardpoints with wingtip rails capable of accommodating Sidewinder missiles. It has a maximum take-off weight of 12,383 kg. The Polish airframes will have a similar configuration to the one employed by the Republic of Korea Air Force.
FA-50 jets built by Korea Aerospace Industries are not the only equipment Poland is buying from South Korea. First units of Hanwha Defense-built K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers, Hyundai Rotem-built K2 tanks were delivered to Poland in December last year.
Another high-profile deal between the two countries is the K239 Chunmoo Multiple Rocket Launch System (MRLS), which Poland is acquiring in addition to the US-built HIMARS.
The FA-50 roll-out ceremony also offered a first look at the integration of the South Korean launcher onto the Polish-developed Jelcz 8×8 truck. The systems will also feature Polish command and control systems developed by WB Group.
The Chunmoo MRLS is a multi-caliber rocket launch system that entered service with the South Korean military in 2015. The precision-guided rocket launcher system is a new generation artillery that can fire 600mm tactical missiles as well as 239mm guided missiles, providing the army with an all-weather, indirect fire capability to hit potential enemy targets and areas. Poland is buying 218 units under a contract from November 2022.
The event on June 7 also included a live-fire training sequence with the use of the K239 Chunmoo MLRS and the K9 self-propelled howitzer.
Prior to that, the countries’ defense ministers signed a memorandum of understanding, under which the Joint Korean-Polish Committee (JKPC) on cooperation in the fields of defense and defense industry will be established. Ultimately, the Council will consist of 6 working committees, and their main task will be to strengthen military, educational and R&D cooperation.