The Philippines’ two South Korean-made FA-50 fighter jets has arrived yesterday at Clark Air Force Base in Pampanga, marking the country’s return to the supersonic age of fighter jets after nearly a decade.
The two aircraft is the first batch of the 12 fighter jets delivered to the Philippine Air Force (P.A.F.) amid growing tensions with China.
The two fighter jets from Seoul, were flown by South Korean pilots, accompanied by two S211 jets from PAF to the Clark Air Force Base in Pampanga, where they were welcomed by the Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.
“We’re glad. We are finally back to the supersonic age,” he said while inspecting the “Golden Eagle” Jets.
Gazmin said that the jets could be useful as both trainers and fighters, to be used in patrolling the western island of Palawan where the Philippines has a territorial dispute with China.
Water cannon salute for the first two brand new fighter jets for the Philippine Air Force pic.twitter.com/DZism5cbvj
— Frances Mangosing (@FMangosingINQ) November 28, 2015
Following the retirement of PAF’s last supersonic age jets in 2005, the US-made F-5 Freedom Fighters, the military has been forced to use the Italian-made S211 which are not capable of supersonic flight.
But as the Philippines’ economy improved, President Benigno Aquino III has approved the purchase of $1.3 billion (44 billion pesos) worth of military equipment to help boost the country’s maritime security.
Aquino approved the multi-year deal to acquire two frigates, three anti-submarine helicopters, two long-range patrol aircraft, eight amphibious assault vehicles, three aerial radars and munitions for close support planes and fighters. DND undersecretary for finance, Fernando Manalo said.
“With these aircraft, our capability to guard maritime borders will be enhanced,” an air force general told Reuters.
“Our response time will be quicker but we would need radar and communications to fully integrate our air defence systems.”
China claims most of the South China Sea where other countries have conflicting claims, but the Philippines has been the most vocal in opposing China despite its overwhelming military strength.