Air Force to beef up fleet with South Korean-made jets
As part of the modernization of the Philippine Air Force, the military plans to acquire a dozen South Korean-made fighter jets in the coming months

A 2005 file photo of the T-50 jet, the basis of the TA-50 jet which the Philippine Air Force (PAF) plans to order from South Korea. Photo courtesy of Korea Aerospace Industry, Ltd.

MANILA, Philippines – As part of the modernization of the Philippine Air Force (PAF), the military plans to acquire a dozen South Korean-made fighter jets in the coming months.

Twelve TA-50 fighter jets from South Korea, each costing P1.25-B, will arrive in the Philippines by 2013, ABS-CBN News reported Wednesday, June 20.

The total cost will be P25 billion, or around US $ 591 million.

The TA-50 aircraft is based on the T-50 supersonic trainer jet, and, according to Yonhap News, is a “full-fledged attack platform” that can carry precision-guided weapons.

The fighter jet is part of the T-50 family of aircraft, developed by the Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. The T-50 family is touted as the “only 21st century supersonic advanced trainer and light attack jet.”

The TA-50 has an embedded radar and reinforced weapon capacity compared to the original T-50 model, and is said to be fitted with machine guns and AIM-9 Sidewinder weapons, and can carry bombs and AGM-65 Maverick missiles. It was first built last year.

The acquisition of the fighter jets is part of the P70 billion modernization plan for the Armed Forces of the Philippines under the current administration.

The planes will be part of the aging and minimal PAF fleet, which currently only has 2, 25-year-old S-211 trainer jets and an unusable F-5 fighter jet.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told ABS-CBN News that beefing up the country’s air defense capabilities is needed to strengthen not just the fleet but also our image abroad.

Last month, President Benigno Aquino III said the government has been planning to purchase fighter jets made outside the United States.

Back in April, the country requested aircraft, patrol boats and radar systems from the US military to help it achieve “minimum credible defense.”

Among the choices the government had, Aquino said back in May, was to buy second-hand F-16s from the US, but maintenance costs could be too high because of their age.

The country previously relied on obsolete US hand-me-downs, and the country currently has no effective air defenses.

The news also came as the standoff between the Philippines and China enters its 3rd month –

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