On Wednesday, South Korea held an official presentation ceremony for the first FA-50GF light attack aircraft for the Polish Armed Forces, symbolically displaying the two countries’ growing cooperation in the arms industry.

Under the theme “Firm Commitment, Secure Future,” the ceremony took place at the headquarters of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), South Korea’s sole aircraft manufacturer, in Sacheon, about 300 kilometers south of Seoul.

Following flight tests that will take place until next month, KAI plans to deliver 12 FA-50GFs to Poland before the end of the year. In September 2022, KAI signed the “executive” contract with the Warsaw Armaments Agency to supply 48 FA-50 GF jets to replace the aging Polish fleet with a group of new aircraft.

The ceremony was attended by Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup and his Polish counterpart Mariusz Blaszczak, as well as South Korean Air Force Chief of Staff General Jung Sang-Hwa and the head of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, Eom Dong-hwan.

“We have been able to successfully advance this defense cooperation project in a short period of time thanks not only to the excellent technology and production capacity of our company but also to the trust between the two countries and the determination to Poland,” Lee stated.

Blaszczak noted that the rapid deployment has contributed to Poland’s reinforcement efforts.

“Thanks to the rapid launch of the FA-50GF, Poland can now equip itself with more advanced military strategies and carry out military modernization,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the FA-50GF fly in Polish airspace.”

In addition to the 12 jets to be delivered this year, KAI plans to supply 36 units of the upgraded version, named FA-50PL, from the second half of 2025 to 2028.

The FA-50PL is modernized by extending its range by aerial refueling function and improving active electronically scanned array (AESA) and air-to-surface and air-to-air weapons, according to KAI.

Poland has become South Korea’s main arms buyer, as it has signed contracts with the Asian country to purchase K2 tanks, K-9 self-propelled howitzers and Chunmoo multiple rocket launchers, in addition to fighters.

Following the launch ceremony, Lee and Blaszczak signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a joint ministerial committee on bilateral defense and arms industry cooperation, according to the Seoul Defense Ministry. Both had agreed to create this regular consultative body when they met in Poland in February.

The two ministers led the inaugural session of the committee after the signing of the MoU, and Lee requested Blaszczak’s support in maintaining the conditions for long-term cooperation in the arms industry, according to the ministry.

The two sides also agreed to deepen cooperation in the defense sector, in line with their growing ties in the arms industry, and discussed forms of cooperation, such as mutual visits between their troops operating the same weapons systems, as they agreed during their February talks, he added.

The two ministers were also scheduled to attend the third South Korea-US Combined Live Fire Exercise session on Wednesday at the Seungjin Fire Training Camp in Pocheon, just 25 kilometers south of the inter-Korean border.

The largest combined live-fire exercises in Allied history took place on May 25 and last Friday. They are expected to be repeated twice more: next Monday and Thursday.

Yonhap News Agency