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The Philippines is considering a move to purchase additional FA-50 light attack aircraft from South Korea to bolster its defense capabilities, a news report picked up in Seoul on Sunday said.
According to the latest issue of IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, Manila may be weighing the need to acquire 36 planes from Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) as part of its Flight Plan 2028.
The weekly cited a source from the Philippine Air Force (PAF) at the Asian Defense and Security 2016 exhibition held in the Philippine capital as saying the country wants to secure more light combat aircraft under a medium-term modernization program. The officer said the planes will help the Southeast Asian country to better detect, intercept and neutralize any perceived threats to its exclusive economic zone.
The PAF has already ordered 12 FA-50s from KAI in March 2014 with deliveries starting in December 2015, with the last of these planes to arrive in late 2017. This order is worth 431.3 billion won (US$390).
The FA-50 is a two-seat, light multi-role fighter derived from the T-50 advanced trainer already in service with the South Korean Air Force. It has a max speed of Mach 1.5 and can be armed with 4.5 tons of ordnance, including air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, as well as bombs and an automatic cannon.
Despite the report, South Korean arms experts are cautioning that Manila’s new president has generally held negative views on the FA-50s.
President Rodrigo Duterte has generally favored the purchase of assault helicopters and transport planes that are better suited to fighting insurgents rather than spending money on supersonic jets.