CLARK AIR BASE, PAMPANGA, Nov. 28 — A deep-throated roar in the sky heralded the arrival of the country’s first two FA-50PHs and return of the supersonic capability of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) Saturday morning.
The two aircraft, with tail numbers OO1 and 002, landed at Clark Air Base, Angeles City, Pampanga at 10:23 a.m. and 10:24 a.m., respectively. The two FA-50PHs left Kaohsiung, Taiwan around 9:05 a.m. Saturday. The planes made a refuelling stop after taking-off from Sacheon, South Korea 9 a.m. Friday.
The two FA-50s with their two SIAI-Marchetti S-211 escorts made two high-speed fly-bys above Clark Air Base before landing much to the delight of the assembled PAF personnel and media practitioners present.
Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, who was present to witness the arrival, said the deliveries of the two FA-50PHs marked the return of the PAF to the supersonic age.
Supersonic refers to having aircraft capable of flying faster than sound or 750 miles per hour.
The PAF’s supersonic capability was eliminated in 2005 when it was forced to retire its aging Northrop F-5 “Tiger” jet fighters due to lack of spare parts.
The planes will undergo acceptance flight and testing before being commissioned into PAF service.
The two FA-50PHs were supposed to arrive this Friday but got delayed due to inclement weather in South Korea.
The DND has signed a 12-plane contract worth P18.9 billion with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) last March 2014.
The F/A-50 (the other designation for the FA-50PH) has a top speed of Mach 1.5 (990 miles per hour) 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 get enough experience of operating fast jet assets and money to fund the acquisition of more capable fighter aircraft.
The FA-50 design is largely derived from the F-16 “Fighting Falcon”, and they have many similarities, use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons.
KAI’s previous engineering experience in license-producing the KF-16 was a starting point for the development of the FA-50.
The aircraft can carry two pilots in tandem seating. The high-mounted canopy developed by Hankuk Fiber is applied with stretched acrylic, providing the pilots with good visibility, and has been tested to offer the canopy with ballistic protection against four-pound objects impacting at 400 knots.
The altitude limit is 14,600 meters (48,000 feet), and airframe is designed to last 8,000 hours of service.
There are seven internal fuel tanks with capacity of 2,655 liters (701 US gallons), five in the fuselage and two in the wings.
An additional 1,710 liters (452 US gallons) of fuel can be carried in the three external fuel tanks.
Trainer variants have a paint scheme of white and red, and aerobatic variants white, black, and yellow.
The FA-50 uses a single General Electric F404-102 turbofan engine license-produced by Samsung Techwin, upgraded with a full authority digital engine control system jointly developed by General Electric and Korean Aerospace Industries.
The engine consists of three-staged fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an afterburner. Its engine produces a maximum of 78.7 kN (17,700 lbf) of thrust with afterburner.
The FA-50 is a variant of the KAI T-50 Golden Eagle, a family of South Korean supersonic advance and multirole light fighters developed by the Korea Aerospace Industries with the American Lockheed Martin company.
The T-50 has been further developed into aerobatic and combat variants, namely T-50B, TA-50, and FA-50. The F-50 is an advanced fighter variant. The T-50B serves with the South Korean air force’s aerobatics team.
The TA-50 and its variants are being used (in service) of the Republic of Korea Air Force, Indonesian Air force, Iraqi Air Force and the latest is the Philippine Air Force.
The fighter jet had its firts flight in August 20, 2002 and later introduced to service in February 22, 2005. A brand new F-50 jet costs US $30 million.