Tag Archive: KAI


New PH jet completes 1st flight

The Philippines’ first lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) jet successfully completed its first flight in South Korea, aircraft maker Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) announced Wednesday.

The “FA-50PH” made its maiden flight on June 19, after the Philippines signed a contract to buy 12 units in March 2014, KAI said in its Facebook page.

“We will our best to deliver initial two aircraft by the end of this year,” the company said.

Fernando Manalo, defense undersecretary for modernization, said KAI may deliver two of the jets by the third quarter of 2015.

“It will be possible for the FA-50s to feature in the Armed Forces’ 80th anniversary,” he said in an interview during the military’s 79th anniversary last December.

Colonel Enrico Canaya, Air Force spokesman, called the first jet’s maiden flight a “positive development.”

“It’s a good sign that we are about to become a more modern PAF soon,” Canaya said in a text message to reporters.

The government signed a contract to buy 12 brand-new FA-50s for P18.9 billion in March 2014, amid China’s buildup in the West Philipppine Sea (South China Sea).

Three Air Force pilots are presently in South Korea to train in operating the FA-50s.

The pilots were chosen for the jet project after registering more than a thousand hours flying Marchetti S-211 planes, Colonel Miguel Ernesto Okol, director for operations of the Air Force’s Air Defense Wing, told reporters in December.

The Philippines’ air defense was reduced to the S-211s when the country retired its last seven F5 fighter jets in 2005, after the latter had served for 40 years.

The S-211s were originally designed as trainers and secondary attack planes, but were refitted with avionics equipment and machine guns in recent years to take on air defense.

KAI’s FA-50 jets rake the sky with speeds of up to 1.5 times the speed of sound, compared to the S-211s that fly at a maximum 667 kilometers per hour.

It can be fitted with missiles like the AIM-9 “Sidewinder” air-to-air and heat-seeking missile, aside from light automatic cannons.

The FA-50 will act as the country’s interim fighter until the Philippines gets enough experience of operating fast jets and eventually acquire “multi-role fighters.” (John Roson)

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An FA-50 fighter jet. (photo grabbed from KAI website http://www.koreaaero.com/)

An FA-50 fighter jet. (photo grabbed from KAI website http://www.koreaaero.com/)

The Philippines may start getting fighter jets in 2015 under a deal being negotiated with South Korean aircraft maker Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI), Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Thursday.

Deliveries of the FA-50 lead-in fighter jets are expected to start “June 2015,” Gazmin said in a text message.

Gazmin made the remark after saying that the defense department has already recommended measures on how to resolve issues on the P18.9-billion project.

“We recommended the approval of the downpayment and progress billing,” Gazmin said.

Earlier this month, Undersecretary for modernization Fernando Manalo said KAI is asking for a 52 percent downpayment but the department can only pay 15 percent under the law.

Another key issue is the “turnaround time,” or the period required for the supplier to deliver spare parts under warranty. The department requires the supplier to deliver spare parts within 30 to 45 days, while KAI wants a 180-day period.

The DND recommended that KAI be allowed a period of 60 days, Gazmin said.

Recommendations on the project have been sent to the Office of the President, he added.

“The FA-50 project is ongoing. There are just terms that require prior approval of the President,” Manalo said in a separate text message.

The government and KAI began negotiations early this year on the former’s plan to buy 12 FA-50 fighter jets.

The country retired its last seven F5 fighter jets in 2005, after being in service for 40 years.

The absence of fighter jets and other modern equipment for almost a decade now has left the country’s far-flung territories – like the Spratly Islands off Palawan and Scarborough Shoal off Zambales – virtually “open” to intrusions by other countries, especially muscle-flexing China. (John Roson)

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