Korea Aerospace to PAF: Consider buying more modern FA-50 jets

By Priam Nepomuceno

June 21, 2023, 1:54 pm

<p><em>(PNA photo by Priam Nepomuceno)</em></p>

(PNA photo by Priam Nepomuceno)

MANILA – The Philippine Air Force (PAF) should look at the possibility of upgrading or acquiring more capable versions of its existing Mach 1.5 capable light jet fighters FA-50PH to further beef up its defensive capabilities.

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) Regional Manager and Chief, Aircraft BD and Sustainment Kim Sang Eung made this remark during the Air Force Symposium at the Marriott Hotel in Pasay City.

In his presentation, he recommended to the PAF that it acquires "three upgraded FA-50 squadrons at three key points for covering whole Philippine territory and rapid response to threats."

Kim also recommended the retrofitting or upgrades of the existing 12 FA-50PH in service, making them capable of conducting air-to-ground, air-to-sea, and air-to-air mission objectives.

This includes the fitting of these aircraft with an assortment of radar and targeting systems along with a 300-gallon external fuel tank to increase the FA-50PH's combat range.

Kim said these proposals are the "most cost-effective solutions" to achieve the PAF's goal of being a credible Air Force.

Also, he said the FA-50 is "the most cost-efficient solution that customers around (the) world opt to procure as next-generation multi-role fighter aircraft."

Kim also said the "advanced combat capability of the FA-50 provides customer(s) with more choice for flexible operation."

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

A total of 12 FA-50s were acquired from Korea Aerospace Industries for PHP18.9 billion.

The deliveries commenced in November 2015 and were completed in May 2017.

The FA-50PHs were blooded during the Battle for Marawi which raged for five months in 2017.

Also, Kim said the PAF should look into their KF-21 "Boramae" which is an ongoing development.

The KF-21, which is also produced by KAI, is a South Korean fighter aircraft development program, with Indonesian involvement, with the goal of producing an advanced multi-role fighter for South Korea and Indonesia.

The program is led by the South Korean government which has 60 percent of the program's shares.

Indonesia took a 20 percent stake in the program in 2010, while the remaining 20 are held by private partners including KAI.

South Korea is expected to field the KF-21 by 2026. Its primary intended users are the Republic of Korea Air Force and the Indonesian Air Force.

The KF-21 is South Korea's second domestic fighter jet development program, following the FA-50. (PNA)