The Philippines will hold “pre-negotiations” with South Korean firm Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to buy supersonic fighter jets for the Air Force, a defense official said Wednesday.

The Government Procurement Policy Board approved the talks for FA-50 jets from KAI last December, defense assistant secretary for acquisition, installations, and logistics Patrick Velez said in a press briefing.

“We are going to proceed with the pre-negotiation with them… if everything pushes through in the timeframe, we may be able to finish the contract by the end of February,” Velez said.

Some P18 billion will be spent to buy 12 fighter jets, two of which may arrive after six months, Velez told reporters.

The purchase will be done through a government-to-government deal, he said.

The Air Force currently has no fighter jets since it retired its last seven F5 fighters in 2005, after being in service for 40 years.

The only jets in the PAF inventory are S-211 trainer jets, which are also being used for reconnaissance missions.

S-211 trainer jets are sub-sonic. KAI’s FA-50 fighter jets fly as fast as MACH 1.5. (John Roson)

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