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RMAF Pilots prep for FA-50M training in South Korea early 2026

Six RMAF pilots will undergo intensive training in early 2026 to operate the FA-50M, a light combat aircraft by Korea Aerospace Industries. Last May, Malaysia’s Ministry of Defence and KAI finalized a US$920 million contract for 18 FA-50M aircraft procurement.



MALAYSIA: In early 2026, six Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) pilots are set to undergo extensive training for the operation of the FA-50M, a light combat aircraft developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI).

According to information from Malaysia’s state media, Bernama, the training, lasting three to six months, will take place at a Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) airbase in Gwangju, Korea. An industry source revealed that the duration depends on the pilots’ performance.

During this training period, RMAF pilots will utilize the T-50 Golden Eagle advanced trainer aircraft, a joint development by KAI and Lockheed Martin from the US, Bernama reported.

The source, who preferred to remain anonymous, emphasized that only after completing training with the T-50 Golden Eagle will the pilots transition to operating the actual FA-50M light combat aircraft recently acquired by Malaysia.

KAI, South Korea’s exclusive aircraft manufacturer, played a pivotal role in the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) last May.

At the event, Malaysia’s Ministry of Defence and KAI formalized a contract valued at US$920 million for the procurement of 18 FA-50M light combat aircraft.

The upcoming acquisition of the FA-50M light combat aircraft by the RMAF marks a significant advancement, as it involves the most modern variant, referred to as the FA-50 Block 20.

Distinguished by superior capabilities, this variant surpasses its counterparts obtained by other nations, including South Korea and several Southeast Asian countries.

South Korea’s FA-50/T-50 light combat aircraft, also utilized by the air forces of Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines in Southeast Asia, is part of the same family.

Kang Goo-Young, CEO of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), highlighted to Bernama in Langkawi last May that Malaysia’s FA-50 Block 20 variant (FA-50M) is more advanced than the FA-50 variant operated by the ROKAF.

Key differentiators in Malaysia’s FA-50M variant include the incorporation of an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, cutting-edge electronic components, and in-flight refuelling probes.

Additionally, the RMAF’s light combat aircraft will possess the capability to launch guided bullets and high-precision bombs (precision-guided munitions).

An industry source shared with Bernama that the initial batch of four FA-50M light combat aircraft is scheduled to be received by the RMAF in October 2026, followed by the remaining 14 aircraft in subsequent stages.

The comprehensive delivery of the FA-50M aircraft to the RMAF is anticipated to conclude by 2028, as per the source.

The FA-50 is 13.14 metres long, has a 9.45 metres wingspan, and a maximum take-off mass of 12,215 kg, is powered by a General Electric F404 turbofan engine providing over 8,000 kg thrust, maximum speed being Mach 1.5.

It can be armed with an M61 three-barrel Vulcan 20 mm cannon.

Based on the information available online, the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) presently possesses a total of 39 fighter jets in its inventory.

This includes 13 British-made Hawk 208 light combat aircraft, 8 US-made F/A-18D, and 18 Russian-made SU-30MKM multirole aircraft.

In 2017, RMAF decommissioned aged MiG-29N due to substantial maintenance costs, amounting to RM262 million (approximately US$55.8 million) per year.

Due to budgetary constraints, the RMAF has opted to defer its multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) program to the year 2025.

Singapore Air Force expected to bolster its fleet with 20 F-35 fighter jets

In comparison, In a move to enhance its aerial combat capabilities, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is set to bolster its fleet with the acquisition of eight F-35A fighter jets.

This announcement was made by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen during the Budget 2024 debate on the Ministry of Defence’s (Mindef) budget on 28 February.

The new aircraft will complement the previously announced purchase of 12 F-35Bs, marking a substantial investment in fifth-generation stealth technology proven effective on the battlefield.

The F-35As, which are expected to arrive around 2030, follow Mindef’s 2023 decision to buy an additional eight F-35Bs after an initial acquisition of four in 2020. These state-of-the-art jets are produced by Lockheed Martin, a leading aerospace manufacturer based in the United States.

Dr Ng explained that the F-35A variant offers greater endurance and the capability to carry higher payload capacities, perfectly complementing the F-35B’s unique short take-off and vertical landing capabilities.

With close to 2,500 units on order worldwide, the F-35 program has reached a competitive pricing point, making it an opportune moment for Singapore to expand its fleet.

Although specific figures for the eight F-35As were not disclosed, pricing trends suggest a cost-effective window for acquisition, with the latest production lot indicating a price of US$82.5 million per F-35A.

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When your neighbor can buy Ferralee but they can only have a pma.
That’s is what you have here!😆😆😆😆

Their fighter jets got engines or not? Asking for a friend.