Glad to be back in supersonic age, says Gazmin | Inquirer Technology

Glad to be back in supersonic age, says Gazmin

/ 07:40 AM November 29, 2015

ARRIVAL OF FA-50 PH FIGHTER PLANES/NOV.28,2015 Two newly-acquired FA-50 PH fighter planes is sprayed with water during a water canon salute as it arrives to the Philippines from South Korea in Clark Air Base in Pampanga. The first two of the 12 brand new fighter jets from South Korea worth 18 billion pesos ($381 million) is part of the country's modernization program and to mark the air force's return to "supersonic jet age". INQUIRER PHOTO/RAFFY LERMA

Two newly-acquired FA-50 PH fighter planes is sprayed with water during a water canon salute as it arrives to the Philippines from South Korea in Clark Air Base in Pampanga. RAFFY LERMA

CLARK AIR BASE, Pampanga—Two South Korean-made fighter jets landed on the Philippine Air Force runway here on Friday, the first of 12 combat planes the country bought to improve defense and air security.

Applause from Philippine defense officials resounded as the FA-50 jets, the country’s first supersonic combat aircraft in a decade, touched down at this former United States Air Force base. Fire trucks sprayed water on the fighters in a traditional welcome salute.


Flown from Seoul by South Korean pilots, two Philippine S211 jets met the new fighters in Philippine air space and escorted them to Clark where they were received by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.


The fighter planes, actually trainer jets converted to serve as multirole combat aircraft, were bought by the Philippines from Korea Aerospace Industries at a cost of P18.9 billion ($402 million). This includes the 10 other jets that will be delivered in batches through 2017.

Weapons that include bombs and rockets for the FA-50s will be purchased later.

Disputed area

Gazmin said the aircraft would likely be posted in Western Palawan, the country’s closest point to disputed islets in the South China Sea.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea even up to the coastline of some Southeast Asian nations, among them, the Philippines. In 2012, China seized a shoal off Zambales, prompting the Philippine military to scramble to improve its fighting capabilities.

Over the years, the Philippine military deteriorated to become one of Asia’s weakest.


After a decade “We’re glad we’re finally back to the supersonic age,” Gazmin said as he inspected the “Golden Eagle” jets.

Col. Enrico Canaya, Air Force spokesperson, said this was the first time in 10 years that Filipino pilots would be flying supersonic fighter jets after the Armed Forces of the Philippines decommissioned its fleet of 30 F-5 jets in 2005.

Lt. Col. Rolando Conrad Peña III, one of three pilots who underwent a seven-month flight training in South Korea, said the two initial fighter planes would be used to train a pool of pilots who will fly the other 10 FA-50 jets.

Peña said the jets were equipped with a countermeasures dispenser system (CMDS), radar, radar warning receiver (RWR) and, soon, missiles.

“It is a light attack [combat] aircraft. It can do light multirole missions but primarily it is a lead-in fighter,” he added.


“The FA-50s are going to be a transition platform [before our pilots] flying the more advanced multirole combat fighters that we will be acquiring in the future,” he said. Justine Dizon, Inquirer Central Luzon.

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Last week, Aquino authorized Gazmin to enter into major contracts to acquire 44 billion pesos ($936 million) worth of military hardware, including two frigates, anti-submarine helicopters and amphibious assault vehicles for the navy, and long-range patrol aircraft, munitions for the FA-50s and surveillance radar for the air force, Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said. With reports from AP and AFP

TOPICS: Philippine Air Force, Voltaire Gazmin
TAGS: Philippine Air Force, Voltaire Gazmin

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