As expected the Philippine Air Force (PAF) has started to arm their new FA-50PH light fighter and close-air support aircraft with the purchase of 93,600 rounds of ammunition for the onboard General Dynamics A-50 3-barrel 20-mm rotary cannon.
Although only two of the twelve ordered fast jets from Korean Aerospace Industries have arrived, Manilla seems eager to get them up and running. Apart from the gun ammo chaffs and flares are being procured from Israeli Elbit Systems.
The FA-50s are also capable of carrying up to 8,250 lbs (3,740 kg) of payload on 4 underwing, 2 wingtip and one centreline pylons. Plans exist to equip the PAF’s FA-50 with at least AIM-9 Sidewinders and free-fall bombs, but at this stage it is not known yet if those weapons will be newly bought or come from existing stock.
The Philippine Air Force used to have combat jets with air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons until 2005, when the last of the Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighters were retired. The nation required 37 of those jets between 1965 and 1998. With China projecting its military might and tensions rising over the Spratly Island, the Philippines have restarted a re-weaponizing program, but with limited funds.
© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: The first two Philippine Air Force T-50s take off from Sacheon in South Korea (Image © KAI)