South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has awarded a 1.1 trillion South Korean Won or $1 billion contract to Korea Aerospace Industries for FA-50 light multi-role fighter aircraft.
The exact number of aircraft to be acquired was not revealed. However, a previous contract in 2012 for 20 FA-50 aircraft was worth about $600 million. Of these, eight are to be delivered in 2013 and the remaining twelve in 2014.
The additional order will extend production currently running at 1 or 2 aircraft per month. All aircraft are expected to be delivered by 2016 and will replace the Northrop Grumman F-5 in South Korea's Air Force.
The FA-50 is the most advanced version currently available of a family of aircraft, which began with the T-50, and developed in cooperation with Lockheed Martin.
The T-50 was designed primarily to be an advanced trainer for fighter pilots. The TA-50 added more attack capabilities and the FA-50 is a true, multi-role fighter aircraft.
The FA-50 includes modifications to the previous version that includes longer range with more fuel and more advanced avionics. Even more advanced versions are planned for the future.
These upgrades include replacing the General Electric F-404 engine with the more powerful F-414 engine and the installation of an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar instead of the Elta EL/M-2032 radar.
Besides South Korea, Indonesia is the only other country to have placed orders for both the T-50 and TA-50 variants. Other countries have expressed interest in members of the T-50 family, but have yet to place orders.