No speed pass for FA-50 jets on Air Force anniversary
The FA-50 fighter jets won’t make an appearance on Tuesday’s Air Force anniversary in Clark, which will be graced by President Rodrigo Duterte, a critic of the acquisition of the air assets.
Air Force spokesperson Col. Robert Musico cited inclement weather as the reason for scrapping the high-speed pass.
Last month, he said that two FA-50s would make a high-speed opener pass for the Air Force’s 69th anniversary as part of its highlights.
The first two of 12 FA-50s from South Korea worth P18.9 billion arrived in the country last November. It signaled the return of the Philippine Air Force to supersonic age.
Duterte, who wants to deal first with insurgency problems, earlier said that the jets were “a waste of money.”
“You cannot use them for anti-insurgency, which is the problem at the moment. You can only use these for ceremonial fly-by,” he said.
AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said that Duterte’s criticism has nothing to do with the cancellation of the speed pass.
“So in the event that there is a weather bulletin saying they are expecting inclement weather, for purposes of safety, it is better to hold it off kasi high-value assets ‘yan,” he said.
FA-50s used with high-performance flight and visual flight rules would have difficulty in operating low-visibility and heavy-cloud conditions unlike turbo propeller-powered aircraft, he explained.
Tropical Storm Nepartak, which will be locally named “Butchoy,” is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility on Tuesday. As of 10 a.m., it was located 1,855 kilometers east of Visayas.
A showcase and capability of different units of the Air Force would still continue, however.
A figure “69” formation of eleven T-41 primary trainer aircraft and nine SF-260 basic trainer aircraft will conduct an opener pass.
A fly-by of Agusta Westland 109 helicopters from 15th Srike Wing, UH1-D and Bell 412 combat ulitility helicopters, C-130 and C-295 transport planes is also scheduled. JE
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