MANILA, Philippines – Now, the 5th batch. Two more FA-50 lead-in fighter trainers for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) arrived in Clark, Pampanga, on Wednesday, April 26.
The FA-50s with tail numbers 009 and 010 touched down before noon on Wednesday. They bring the number of the Philippines' fighter jets to 10.
They were officially received by PAF 1st Air Division commander Major General Enrique Reyes, said spokesman Colonel Antonio Francisco.
The last batch to complete PAF's squadron of fighter jets is expected next month. They will be complete in time for PAF's anniversary celebration in July, said Francisco.
"The FA-50 is very functional rightnow for us. Besides territorial defense, it is a multi-role fighter, lead-in surface attack, and trainer aircraft. What we are focusing on right now is the training of our pilots," Francisco said.
The FA-50 is technically a fighter trainer but the PAF acquired it to perform multiple roles. These aircraft have been deployed for surgical airstrikes against terrorists in Mindanao.
The jets were acquired for P18 billion by the previous administration, one of two big-ticket items as the country embarked on a modest modernization.
The Philippine Navy also bought two brand new warships from South Korea, also for about P18 billion.
The purchase of the FA-50s marked the PAF's return to the supersonic age a decade after retiring the last of its US-made F5 fighter jets in 2005. (READ: PH Air Force a joke no more, gets fighter jets)
The video below shows the formal transfer of the 3rd batch of FA-50s in February.