(Photo courtesy: Air Force Public Affairs Office)

MANILA -- In line with efforts to produce more military pilots versed in fast jet operations, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Friday conducted acceptance, turn-over and blessing ceremonies for its FA-50PH flight simulator and facility at the Fighter Wing, Basa Air Base, Floridablanca, Pampanga.

Present during the ceremonies were Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who served as guest-of-honor together with the South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-Man, PAF spokesperson Maj. Aristides Galang said.

The FA-50PH flight simulator is a ground-based simulation training system that can help improve the operational capability of real aircraft through systematic flight training and tactical mission training programs.

It also provides the appropriate training environment for pilots by simulating scenarios similar to actual flight operations, Galang said.

The facility is part of the Horizon I of the AFP Modernization Project.

The construction of the facility began on October 19 last year and was finished last February 20, with the Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) as contractor.

The Philippines' 12-plane contract with KAI is worth PHP18.9-billion and was signed in February 2014.

The FA-50PH has a top speed of Mach 1.5 or one-and-a-half times the speed of sound and is capable of being fitted air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 "Sidewinder" air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles aside from light automatic cannons.

It will act as the country's interim fighter until the Philippines gets enough experience in operating fast jet assets and money to fund the acquisition of more capable fighter aircraft.

The FA-50PH design is largely derived from the F-16 "Fighting Falcon", and they have many similarities, among them the use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons. (PNA)