The KAI FA-50 in flight (Image © KAI)

KAI FA-50 for Philippine Air Force

The KAI FA-50 in flight (Image © KAI)
The KAI FA-50 in flight (Image © KAI)

LATEST UPDATE 28 MARCH 2014 | The Philippine Air Force is going ahead with the purchase of 12 KAI FA-50 light combat aircraft from South Korea. The deal was signed on 28 March 2014, after senior officials of Philippines president Aquino confirmed the upcoming signatures on 19 October 2013. The Philippines are in great need of this air asset, since they have no fighter available at this time.

Back in 2005 the Philippine Air Force retired its entire fighter fleet of Northrop F-5A/Bs, of which it received 37 aircraft from the USA, Taiwan and South Korea between 1965 and 1998. Since then the only real valuable assets to protect the vast waters around the archipelago republic have been the roughly 120 vessels of the Philippine Navy. Meanwhile tensions between the Philippines and coming super power China have been rising bit by bit. The Philippine Air Force did get SIAI Marchetti AS.211 Warriors advanced trainer / light attack aircraft, but of the 25 delivered in the 1990s only a handful remain in service with even less in airworthy condition.

Senior Philippine officials admit that 12 light combat aircraft will not make a big stand against a Chinese military action, but that the planned purchase worth 450 million US dollars is a good start.

The KAI FA-50 Golden Eagle is a derivative of the T-50 advanced jet trainer, a joint development between Lockheed Martin and Korean Aerospace Industries. The aircraft is especially useful for close air support tasks, whether over land or at sea, but has limited aerial combat capabilities as well armed with air-to-air missiles and gun pods. The FA-50 can be armed with roughly anything from free-fall bombs to guided missiles and advanced joint direct-attack munitions. The Pulse Doppler radar EL/M made by Israeli Elta Systems gives the pilot a view range of 100 kilometers.

At least four of 16 ordered T-50i trainers have been delivered to the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU). The Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) itself operates 50 T-50s, 10 T-50Bs and 22 TA-50s, with 20 FA-50 on order.

Source: Philippine Government