MANILA, Philippines -- The first two FA-50 “Golden Eagle” jet fighters from South Korea will be touching down at Clark airbase in Pampanga on Friday.
The Philippines has acquired 12 of the two-seater aircraft from Korean Aerospace Inc. for P18.9 billion as part of the military’s modernization program. All the fighters are expected to be delivered by 2017.
Philippine Air Force commander Lieutenant General Jeffrey Delgado will lead the welcome of the jets. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin has also been invited.
Delgado earlier rode one of the fighters during test flights in South Korea.
The FA-50, an upgraded version of KAI’s supersonic T-50 advance trainer jet, is expected to boost the Air Force’s capability to patrol the country’s airspace. However, the jets that will be delivered are not yet combat-ready.
A missile project intended for the aircraft was among the “big ticket items” suspended after Armed Forces chief of staff General Hernando Irriberi assumed his post.
The jets would bring back PAF into the realm of supersonic although these are not yet combat-ready. But the aircrafts would be a big boost to air capability especially in patrolling 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.
PAF spokesman Colonel Enrico Canaya said the two arriving fighters will be piloted by Korean airmen and will touch down around 10 a.m. Friday.
The jets will undergo a technical inspection, including an “acceptance flight,” before being formally turned over to the Air Force, Canaya said.
He added that it would take “months” for the Air Force to train pilots for the new jets.