The two FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer jets will be arriving on December 10 as part of the Philippine Air Force’s attempt to modernize their air fleet. The fighter jets will be displayed and seen in a fly-by sortie on AFP’s anniversary on December 30.
Philippine Air Force commanding head Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado, tested one of the units personally in South Korea last week.
“He co-piloted one of the flights… He was very excited since it flew at the speed of sound, it was a supersonic flight,” PAF spokesman, Col. Enrico Canaya said.
Korea Aerospace Industries signed an P18.9-billion contract with the Philippine in March 2014 to supply 12 units of the FA-50 fighter trainer jets to the PAF. The rest of the fighter jets are set to be delivered from 2016-2018. It is the AFP’s biggest military purchase amid the growing tensions in the West Philippine Sea.
“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,” Canaya said.
Philippine Air Force is also planning to bring in a squadron of US F-16 fighter jets or the Swedish JAS Gripen which are more sophisticated than the FA-50, it is part of the AFP’s second phase for their modernization program to happen between the year 2018-2022.