Poland will buy South Korean FA-50s to abandon Soviet MiG-29s

The Polish Defense Ministry “signed” that it is not capable of producing components to support the combat capability of Soviet-made aircraft

Poland ordered the delivery of 48 FA-50 combat training aircraft to South Korea, of which the first 12 should be delivered already in the first half of 2023, and the service center for their maintenance should be built by 2026.

Poland chose the FA-50, including in order to quickly replace the Soviet-made MiG-29 and Su-22 combat aircraft. Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said this in an interview with the Polish portal Defence24.


         South Korean FA-50, illustrative photo from open sources
South Korean FA-50, illustrative photo from open sources

Blaszczak explained the choice of the South Korean FA-50 as follows. The military threat from the Russian Federation turned out to be so great that Poland has to deal with the modernization of its army here and now, without waiting for the perspective of 10-20 years.

In turn, the Polish military faced the fact that they would no longer be able to buy components for their old Su-22 and MiG-29 from the Russians. And the attempt to independently produce spare parts ended unsuccessfully, in particular, with the fall of the MiG-29 near the Polish city of Paslenk.


         A formation of Polish Su-22s, the photo is illustrative
A formation of Polish Su-22s, the photo is illustrative

It is known that the South Korean FA-50 was developed on the basis of the F-16. And the degree of unification of these aircraft is so high that literally after a few hours of training flights on the FA-50, the pilot can immediately transfer to the F-16.

It would be more logical to immediately buy F-16 in the USA. But, as Blaszczak complains, the manufacturer Lockheed Martin is now more focused on the F-35 production program, which in particular is already leading to delays on already existing contracts for the F-16.


         Polish F-16s fly over Independence Square, August 2021, Kyiv
Polish F-16s fly over Independence Square, August 2021, Kyiv

Accordingly, Poland decided that it is better to buy South Korean FA-50s that can be manufactured and delivered in the shortest possible time. And in order to strengthen the capabilities of its Air Force, Poland decided to take Block 20 FA-50, which can use, in particular, AIM-120 AMRAAM medium-range air-to-air missiles.

At the same time, the Ministry of Defense of Poland does not reject the option of buying additional F-16 and F-35. But at the same time, it will also monitor the success of the South Korean KF-21 program to create a 5th generation fighter.


         South Korean KF-21, photo from open sources
South Korean KF-21, photo from open sources

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