2 FA-50 fighter trainer jets to arrive in PH by yearend – PAF
MANILA, Philippines — Two FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer jets will be arriving by the end of the year as part of the Philippine Air Force’s efforts to modernize its aircraft, according to the PAF.
Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado, the PAF commanding general, personally tested one of the units in a test flight last Friday in South Korea, the PAF spokesman said on Monday.
“He co-piloted one of the flights… He was very excited since it flew at the speed of sound, it was a supersonic flight,” said Col. Enrico Canaya, the PAF spokesman.
In March 2014, Korea Aerospace Industries signed an P18.9-billion contract with the Philippine government to supply 12 units of the FA-50 fighter trainer jets to the PAF.
The rest of the fighter trainer jets are set to be delivered by 2017. The contract is said to be the biggest military upgrade so far undertaken by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The FA-50 has a top speed of Mach 1.5, or one and a half times the speed of sound. It can be fitted with air-to-air missiles, heat-seeking missiles, and light automatic cannons.
It can carry two pilots in tandem seating while its airframe can withstand 8,000 hours of service. The canopy has ballistic protection against four-pound objects impacting at 400 knots.
Early this year, the PAF sent three of its pilots to South Korea to undergo training in operating the FA-50 fighter trainer jet.
“This aircraft is capable of supersonic flight and we do not have that kind of aircraft in our inventory. It’s the comeback of the supersonic age of the Philippine Air Force,” said Canaya.
In 2005, the PAF retired its seven remaining Northrop F-5 Tiger jet fighters because of aging airframes and lack of spare parts.
For 40 years, the F-5s used to act as the country’s sole interceptor aircraft, aided briefly by the Mach-2-capable Vought F-8 “Crusader” in the 1980s.
Canaya said the two FA-50 aircraft would fly in the country in the coming weeks, before the end of the year.
Delgado was accompanied by a Korean pilot during last Friday’s test flight in South Korea.
“He is there to see the performance of the new aircraft. As a pilot, he appreciated all maneuvers done,” Canaya said of Delgado. SFM
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