Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) will place bets on a single-seat version of its FA-50 light-attack jet and in the continued development of advanced air mobility (AAM) aircraft.

The company has earmarked W35.6 billion ($25.2 million) for the development of a single-seat version of the FA-50, according to a recent company statement.

Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50

Source: Korea Aerospace Industries

The single-seat FA-50 will retain the two-seater’s mold line and canopy, replacing the backseat with additional fuel

The FA-50, which is based on the T-50 advanced jet trainer, has won broad acceptance overseas. The development of a single-seater is in response to customer demand for an FA-50 with additional range.

The company estimates that the total future market for aircraft in this category is 450 units, and it believes that it can secure about 50% of this.

KAI has long mooted the possibility of a single-seat FA-50. At the Seoul ADEX show in October 2023, Sangshin Park, KAI’s business development director for Asia, told FlightGlobal that there has been increasing demand for a single-seat version.

The removal of the rear seat will make space for a fuel tank. Moreover, the elimination of associated avionics and the ejection seat will help reduce costs, while potentially also increasing weapons payload.

To keep development costs down, the single-seater will retain the FA-50’s existing canopy and outer mould line.

Other efforts to boost the FA-50’s range include the development of a larger external fuel tank and the addition of an air-to-air refuelling capability.

In addition, KAI will invest W55.3 billion in AAM, in a project it refers to as ”AAV (Future Air Vehicle)”. These funds will move its AAM development to the system development phase following the core technology phase. KAI projects that it will invest W150 billion in AAM by 2028.

Test flights are targeted for the 2026-2028 period, with Federal Aviation Administration certification by 2031.

KAI’s AAM platform is envisaged as having both civilian and military applications, and the goal is to have domestic and overseas sales of 23,000 units by 2050.

In February 2023, KAI said it was teaming up with South Korea’s Gyeongsangnam-do province to develop a research facility to explore advanced air mobility. 


Media reports from South Korea indicate that police raided KAI on 15 March in relation to an investigation into the alleged theft of data about the developmental KF-21 fighter by Indonesian engineers.

The investigation is being conducted by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, the Defense Forces Counterintelligence Command, and the National Intelligence Service.

Indonesia is a junior partner in the KF-21 programme but has long been behind on payments related to developing the new fighter.

KAI tells FlightGlobal that is co-operating with the government’s joint investigation team, as well as with the police.