By Francis Wakefield
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said government is looking to acquire about a dozen more FA-50 training and light fighter jets from South Korea.
Lorenzana revealed this at the Philippine Air Force (PAF) Symposium 2018 at the Commissioned Officers Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, on Thursday.
“We were able to discuss that during the senior leaders (meeting) but that is what the President (Rodrigo Duterte) wants when he saw how effective it was,”Lorenzana said.
“We may acquire an additional 12 but it depends on what kind of build up the Air Force wants,” he added.
Prior to assuming the presidency on July 1, 2016, Duterte said the Aquino administration’s purchase of 12 FA-50 lead in fighter trainer jets from South Korea is just a waste of money as the air assets are only used for ceremonies.
But the Chief Executive had a change of heart after seeing the usefulness and effectiveness of the jets, especially during the air campaign to liberate Marawi City from the hands of Maute terrorists.
Lorenzana, in the same interview, said that South Korea has not pledged anything but they are prepared to do so.
“There were lots of things discuss not only the helicopters but also firearms.They want to transfer technology so that we can also produce our military equipment,” he said.
The arrival of the planes is part of the PAF’s purchase of 12 fighter jets worth P18.9 billion from Korea.
The PAF said the FA-50 has a top speed of Mach 1.5 or one-and-half times the top speed of sound and is capable to be fitted with air-to-air missiles.
According to Air Force Technology, the FA-50 aircraft can be armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles, AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground tactical missiles (AGM), GBU-38/B Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), CBU-105 Sensor Fused Weapon (SFW), Mk-82 Low Drag General Purpose (LDGP) bombs and Cluster Bomb Units (CBUs).
It also described aircraft as one that can be mounted with an internal, three-barrel 20mm Gatling gun and LAU-3/A 19-tube 2.75” rocket launcher for firing Folding-Fin Aerial Rockets (FFAR). The wide range of weapon systems aboard the FA-50 allows it to counter multiple threats in today’s complex battlefield scenario, Air Force Technology stated in its website.