MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III poured champagne on the nose of the new FA-50 fighter jets from South Korea on Saturday, December 5, in a ceremony that officially turned over the assets to the Philippine Air Force.
A series of acceptance tests were conducted following the arrival of the two FA-50s on November 28, the first batch out of the total 12 jets to be delivered until 2017. They cost the government P18.9 billion ($401.6 million). (READ: PH Air Force returns to supersonic age: Fighter jets arrive in Clark)
The assets are assigned to the Air Defense Wing, the air force unit responsible for territorial defense. Air Force chief Lieutenant General Jeffrey Delgado said they will be deployed to secure land, airspace and maritime territory including the country's Exclusive Economic Zone. They may also be deployed for surveillance, reconnaissance, interdiction, and close air support missions.
One of the weakest militaries in Asia, the Philippines acquired the FA-50s to achieve "minimum credible defense" against the aggressiveness of China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). It also filed a case against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. (READ: PH's closing remarks at The Hague)
Strictly speaking, the FA-50 is a lead-in fighter trainer aircraft but it is also called a fighter jet because of its minimum fighter capabilities. The FA-50 design is derived largely from the US' F-16. – Rappler.com