MANILA, Philippines – An SF-260TP basic trainer aircraft of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) crashed in Pilar, Bataan on Wednesday, January 25. The two pilots on board died in the accident.
While the cause of the accident is being determined, other similar aircraft are grounded as a standard procedure in the investigation. (READ: 2 killed in Bataan military plane crash)
Which aircraft does the PAF use in training? How many are currently in use?
PAF training planes
Due to the costly price of the purchase and maintenance of aircraft, some planes in service often double as training planes.
On the PAF’s website, there are three trainer-classified planes in active use: The American Cessna T-41 Mescalero, as well as the Italian SIAI-Marchetti S-211 (redesignated to AS-211) and SIAI-Marchetti SF-260.
In undergoing training, pilots must fly the T-41 for primary training, move to the SF-260 for basic flight training, and finally fly the AS-211 for advanced training.
The AS-211 is a jet trainer aircraft, meaning that it is powered by a turbine fan or turbofan. The SF-260, on the other hand, is fitted with a turboprop engine.
The main difference between the two aircraft is their design. The SF-260 has an external “prop” or blade in front of the craft, while the AS-211 uses an internal blade inside its engine.
15 T-41 trainer planes were donated to the Philippines by South Korea in March 2009.
24 brand-new AS-211 jets were acquired from Italy in 1989, but only 3 remain in service due to attrition and a lack of available spare parts.
The last 3 jets were recently utilized for training after being replaced by 12 South Korean FA-50PH jets in July 2022.
The SF-260TP variant was first used on July 1, 1993. There are 21 SF-260 planes currently in service, according to the 2022 Directory of World Air Forces. The PAF opened bidding to supply engine parts for 2 of its SF-260TPs in 2018.
Both Italian planes saw combat action during the 2017 Marawi siege. At least 10 Filipino soldiers were killed by a friendly airstrike, with the New York Times reporting that the AS-11 jet was used during the strike. – Rappler.com
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