MANILA, Philippines – Two of 12 units South Korean made supersonic FA-50 “Golden Eagle” jet fighters are on schedule to arrive and will be touching down at Clark airbase in Pampanga on Friday.
The two fighter aircraft will be piloted by Korean airmen and will touch down around 10 a.m. Friday. It will undergo a technical inspection, including an “acceptance flight,” before being formally turned over to the Air Force, PAF spokesman Colonel Enrico Canaya said.
Canaya added that it would take months for the Air Force to train pilots for the new jets.
The Philippines has acquired a squadron of the two-seater fighter aircraft from Korean Aerospace Inc. for P18.9 billion as part of the military modernization program. All the fighters are expected to be delivered by 2017.
Lieutenant General Jeffrey Delgado of the Philippine Air Force together with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin will lead the welcome of the jets. Some media reporters have also been invited.
Lt. Gen. Delgado earlier rode one of the fighters during test flights in South Korea. However, upon delivery, the jets are not yet combat-ready. But the aircraft would be a big boost to air capability, especially in patrolling the country’s airspace.
A missile project and ordinance intended for the aircraft was among the “big ticket items” suspended after Armed Forces chief of staff General Hernando Irriberi assumed his post.
The KAI’s supersonic T-50 advanced trainer jet, which was upgraded to a capable full combat and deadly FA-50 is expected to boost the Air Force’s capability to patrol the country’s airspace.
The Department of National Defense has also yet to decide on which long-range surveillance radar system to purchase to fit with the new fighters and should resume immediately the procurement of weapons like the missiles and ordinances. – Carl E.