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KAI to Develop Single-Seater Variant of FA-50 LCA

KAI to Develop Single-Seater Variant of FA-50 LCA

ROK-based Hankyung reports that a single-seater variant of FA-50 light combat aircraft (LCA) will be developed. The single-seater FA-50 will be developed with the cooperation of the military and civilian sectors. The initial project cost is estimated at $48 million. The absence of the second seat will provide more internal volume for additional fuel and a ground collision avoidance system. The former is projected to provide a %30 increase in range. A concept for single-seater FA-50 was presented in the past as F-50 but was cancelled in favour of the KF-21 programme. This shows that the ROK has regained interest in the said variant. The present and future combat aircraft fleet of ROKAF should be inspected to see why. ROKAF currently operates KF-16, F-15K, F-35A, and FA-50 as its combat aircraft and will introduce the indigenous KF-21 fighter jets soon. With its longer range and crew size cut in half, the single-seater variant might be a more favourable option over FA-50 to complement the combat aircraft fleet. Additionally, the lightweight fighter jet market has increased in activity in the last few years because mainstream fighter jets are becoming too costly or logistically heavy to acquire in large numbers for some countries. Some countries have adopted lightweight fighter jets like the Pakistani JF-17 Thunder and Swedish Gripen into service to have an aircraft that can perform some of the missions of full-sized fighter jets at lower acquisition and operating costs. Just like a fighter jet, these aircraft can perform air-to-air and air-to-surface engagements even though the performance might not be the same.

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