MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will buy 12 South Korean FA-50 fighter jets to strengthen its poorly-armed Air Force, Palace official said Wednesday.
Edwin Lacierda, spokesman of the Malacanang Palace however was quick to say that the purchase is not because of increasing maritime tensions with the giant China.
These jets would be used for “training, interdiction and disaster response” purposes only and “not aimed at any particular country,” Lacierda said referring to China over conflicting maritime territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea.
Accordingly, the FA-50s will be the first fighter jets to be operated by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) since it retired the last US-designed F-5 fighters in 2005.
“We don’t have any existing jets right now that are in use, therefore it is necessary for us to upgrade. This is part of the ongoing process of modernizing our military hardware,” Lacierda told reporters in a news briefing.
DND spokesman Peter Galvez said the FA-50 was chosen because it fitted all the country’s requirements and because of its cost, adding that 18.9 billion pesos ($464 million) had been budgeted for their acquisition.
Meanwhile, the T-50 is South Korea’s first indigenous supersonic aircraft and one of the World’s few supersonic advanced trainers and multi-role light warplanes. It took its maiden flight in 2002 and entered active service with the Korea Air Force in 2005.
Korean officials said the T-50, which is also being marketed as a candidate for the T-X program of America as the US Air Force’s next-generation advanced trainer, is the proposed base for the F-50 next-generation indigenous fighter.
Aside from the Philippines, countries such as Iraq, Poland and Spain also plans to purchase the FA-50 light attack from South Korea. Additional production for 60 FA-50 Aircrafts will commence in 2013 until 2016.