By Clement Charpentreau
The Polish Air Force unveiled its FA-50 light fighters during the flypast of the Polish Armed Forces Day on August 15, 2023. The two aircraft took off from the 23 Tactical Air Base near Mińsk Mazowiecki and flew in a formation with a Polish MiG-29 over Warsaw.
The FA-50GF jets, the latest addition to the Polish Air Force, have been in service with the Polish army since July 2023.
“We are strengthening and modernizing our armed forces [with] equipment of every category,” remarked Polish President Andrzej Duda during the celebration. “The purpose of all this great modernization is to equip the Polish army and create such a defense system that no one would ever dare attack us.”
Poland’s decision to acquire 48 KAI FA-50 Fighting Eagle aircraft was announced in July 2022, as part of a comprehensive procurement plan that also encompassed hundreds of South Korean K2 main battle tanks and K9 self-propelled howitzers. The two first aircraft were delivered by a Korean Air Boeing 747 freighter in early July 2023.
The FA-50 Fighting Eagle, a lightweight multi-role fighter jet developed by Korea Aerospace Industries, is based on the successful T-50 Golden Eagle training jet. It boasts the capability to achieve supersonic speeds of Mach 1.5 and is equipped with a 20mm cannon, as well as a versatile array of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, rockets, guided bombs, and equipment for reconnaissance and electronic warfare.
Out of the 48 aircraft ordered by Poland, the first 12 will be delivered in the short term as standard FA-50GF jets, while the remaining 36 will be provided as the enhanced FA-50PL version, tailored to meet specific Polish Air Force requirements.
The delivery of FA-50PL fighters is scheduled between late 2025 and 2028. The 12 FA-50GF aircraft are expected to be upgraded to the same standard at a later date.