Philippines Nears Purchase Completion of FA-50 Fighter Aircraft

The Philippine government is nearing the finish line on the purchase of twelve FA-50 fighter aircraft from the government of South Korea after the two governments came to an agreement on payment terms for the acquisition.
philippines fa-50
Image Source: Global Balita
According to Abigail Valte, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson, the terms of the acquisition of the FA-50 aircraft have been agreed upon by both governments. It was rumoured that the deal to purchase the aircraft had been in the works from as early as two years ago.

The $442 million deal will be a government-to-government transaction meaning that the deal does not need to go through the normal bidding process that would typically be required over such high-budget acquisitions. Last October 2013, President Aquino visited South Korea and signed a number of bilateral agreements including the acquisition of military hardware. Previous reports suggested that the finalization of the fighter aircraft purchase was one of agreements to be worked out during the visit.

According to Defence Undersecretary Fernando Manalo, the negotiations with Korean Aerospace Industries has been completed and that a formal signing of the contract is expected to take place during the second week of March. Upon signing of the contract, delivery of the first batch of aircraft to the Philippine Air Force is expected in August of 2015. The arrival of the brand new aircraft would signify the return of the country's first new fighter aircraft in almost four decades. 

Image Source: Defense Industry Daily
The FA-50 aircraft has the ability to fly at Mach 1.5. However, it will not be the fastest aircraft to ever be part of the Philippine Air Force fleet. In the 1970's, the Air Force was flying the F-8 Crusader aircraft that was capable of reaching speeds of Mach 2. Those aircraft were forced to retire in 1990 due to the ageing airframes as they were purchased used from the United States. The F-8 Crusader purchase in 1977 was the last time the Philippines acquired fighter jets. 

Previous to that, the Philippines acquired 37 F-5 Freedom Fighters from the United States in 1967 which were used extensively in combat operations prior to their retirement in 2005 after nearly four decades of service. As most of the combat operations the Philippine Air Force engages in are counter-insurgency duties, the FA-50 is a suitable aircraft with its ground attack capabilities. 

According to the Philippine military, new ground-based radars will be installed to support the FA-50 aircraft. The new planes will be the most modern aircraft in the Philippine Air Force fleet and similar to its predecessors in that they can be equipped with air-to-air missiles and automatic cannons. The aircraft also have the ability to be armed with anti-ship missiles providing the country with a serious weapon to deter surface and airborne threats. 

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