Although primarily designed as “light-interim fighter trainer,” the South Korean-made FA-50 “Fighting Eagle” has the capability to intercept and engage in air-to-air combat planes intruding in the Philippine airspace.
This was stressed by Philippine Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado during the turnover of eight brand-new Bell-412EPs and two attack versions of the AgustaWestland AW-109Es Monday at Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.
Delgado said, “The aircraft that we’ll be getting (FA-50s), has the capability to intercept and engage in air-to-air (missions) or in a dog fight”.
But despite these advanced capabilities, Delgado explained that the FA-50 is a transition aircraft and will be utilized by the PAF in training the next generation of Filipino fighter pilots.
“We consider it a transition aircraft, and hopefully by the time, in the next few years we will come up with a more advance aircraft,” the PAF chief added.
Two FA-50 units are scheduled to be delivered to the PAF before the end of the year.
The Philippines has 12 FA-50 order from Korea Aerospace Industries worth Php18.9 billion.
The FA-50 has a top speed of Mach 1.5 or one and a half times the speed of sound and is capable of being fitted with air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 “Sidewinder” air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles aside from light automatic cannons.
The fighter jet will act as the country’s interim fighter until the Philippines get enough experience in operating fast jet assets and money to fund the acquisition of more capable fighter aircraft.
The FA-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.
KAI’s previous engineering experience in license-producing the KF-16 was a starting point for the development of the FA-50.
The aircraft can carry two pilots in tandem seating. The high-mounted canopy developed by Hankuk Fiber is applied with stretched acrylic, providing the pilots with good visibility, and has been tested to offer the canopy with ballistic protection against four-pound objects impacting at 400 knots.
The altitude limit is 14,600 meters (48,000 feet), and airframe is designed to last 8,000 hours of service.
There are seven internal fuel tanks with a capacity of 2,655 liters (701 US gallons), five in the fuselage and two in the wings.
An additional 1,710 liters (452 US gallons) of fuel can be carried in the three external fuel tanks.
Trainer variants have a paint scheme of white and red, and aerobatic variants white, black, and yellow.
The FA-50 uses a single “General Electric F404-102” turbofan engine license-produced by Samsung Techwin, upgraded with a full authority digital engine control system jointly developed by General Electric and Korean Aerospace Industries.
The engine consists of three-staged fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an afterburner.
Its engine produces a maximum of 78.7 kN (17,700 lbf) of thrust with afterburner.
Picture image credit to s3.zetaoards