Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Thursday said that the first two South Korean made F/A-50 “Fighting Eagle” jet aircraft will be delivered by September 2015.
But prior this, Air Force pilots with high jet time and maintenance crews, will be first sent to South Korea for briefing and training.
Gazmin expects delivery of the remaining F/A-50s to be completed within two years after the delivery of the first two.
“And after the F/A-50s, we are hoping that we will soon acquire our first modern fighter aircraft,” the defense chief said in Filipino.
The Philippines and South Korea signed the P18.9-billion contract for the 12 F/A-50 units last March 28.
The South Korean jet aircraft can be used to redevelop the supersonic capabilities of the PAF whose last supersonic planes, the Northrop F-5 “Tiger”, was retired last 2005.
The F/A-50, as per technical specifications obtained from the Department of National Defense (DND), can carry a total of 10,500lbs of weapons including an internal 20-mm automatic cannon, two short-ranged air-to-air AIM-9 “Sidewinder” missiles and air-to-surface AGM-65 missiles for close-air support.
A guidance kit called the JDAM (joint direct attack munition) is also installed into the F/A-50, allowing it to convert unguided or “dumb bombs” into all-weather smart munitions.
These bombs are outfitted with an inertial guidance system that is tied to a global positioning system receiver to guide the deployed munition intended to precisely hit a specific target, and to minimize collateral damage.
This is the first-ever Philippine Air Force (PAF) aircraft to employ such weapons as the Northrop F-5 “Tiger” and Vought F-8 “Crusader” which are the country’s first class supersonic fighters do not have the above-mentioned capabilities.
Both planes are only armed with 20mm cannons, air-to-air missiles and unguided bombs and rockets.
The Philippines retired its F-8 fleet sometime in 1990 due to maintenance costs.
Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI)’s F/A-50 has a top speed of Mach 1.5 or one and half times the speed of sound.
The F/A-50 will act as the country’s interim fighter until the Philippines get enough experience of operating fast jet assets and money to fund the acquisition of more capable fighter aircraft.
The F/A-50 design is largely derived from the F-16 “Fighting Falcon”, and they have many similarities: use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons.
The aircraft has a maximum speed of Mach 1.4-1.5.