Poland has just announced the decision to buy the Korean FA-50 light combat aircraft.
In recent weeks the Polish MoD engaged in talks with the Korean defense industry. It was this week when the head of the Polish MoD confirmed that Poland would be procuring the FA-50 jet from South Korea in a number of 48 examples. The experts in Poland are still puzzled as to what the role of the FA-50 would be in the Polish Air Force, and the explanations made by the MoD remain unclear. Apart from the FA-50, the Polish MoD is also acquiring the Korean K2 MBTs and K9 self-propelled gun-howitzers.
The head of the Polish MoD, in his interview in Defence24, stated that the combat variant of the T-50 would replace the post-Soviet fleet of aircraft operated by Poland. Asked why the MoD is not willing to procure F-16s, to add to the country’s fleet of 48 (and thus keep the lifecycle management manageable for a single type), he said that:
Currently, no option to procure new F-16s exists, due to the manufacturer’s policy – as Lockheed now focuses on the F-35. I have talked about this multiple times, with our US partners. We cannot wait, while the FA-50 deliveries would happen next year. Let’s have a look at Slovakia, where the delivery of the F-16s is so delayed, that we need the Polish fighters to patrol the Slovak airspace, within the framework of allied cooperation.
Błaszczak also stressed the urgency in the process of replacing Poland’s Fulcrum and Fitter fleet, given the fact that the availability of spares has become a challenge, in the wake of the Russian aggression. He also confirmed the rumors on the causes of fatalities in the recent MiG-29 crashes, pointing to a manufacturing error in seat harness production made at the WZL-2 facility in Bydgoszcz.
Mariusz Błaszczak, during the event when the agreements with the Korean industry were being concluded, said that “This is not a gap-filling effort, filling the gaps in our Armed Forces. This is a strategic approach. Both our nations are well aware of the threats tied to the aggressive Russian policy. Both our nations are aware of the fact, that our armed forces need to be equipped with modern equipment”.
Despite that statement, it seems that the ad hoc profile of the acquisitions is aimed at filling the inventory gaps, after Poland transferred some of its T-72 and PT-91 MBTs, and Krab self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, for Kiev to use them against the Russian aggressor.
Meanwhile, the Korean Air Force’s demo team the Black Eagles made an appearance in Dęblin, following the wake of news associated with the acquisition of the FA-50. The photos in this article depict the Black Eagles’ appearance over Dęblin – the home of the Polish Air Force Academy and the cradle of the Polish training aviation.
The event also came in sync with the decommissioning of the Polish Air Force’s TS-11 Iskra trainers. This was marked by a laconic release issued by the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces. No further details were provided:
Dziś w Dęblinie, po ponad 58 latach służby w Siłach Powietrznych 🇵🇱, pożegnalny lot samolotów TS-11 Iskra, pierwszej polskiej konstrukcji lotniczej napędzanej silnikiem odrzutowym, na której wyszkoliły się pokolenia polskich pilotów wojskowych. pic.twitter.com/QXjgrHbqXE
— Sztab Generalny WP (@SztabGenWP) July 27, 2022