Despite lacking air-to-air missiles and other long-range weapons, the South Korean-made FA-50PH "Fighting Eagle" are not sting-less drones as portrayed by some reports.
This is because all 12 Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) jet aircraft are fitted with an internal 20mm automatic cannon which can be used for "dog-fighting" or close-in air combat.
While Philippine Air Force spokesperson Col. Enrico Canaya confirmed the existence of the FA-50PHs' 20mm cannons, he did not comment on whether the PAF has stocks of 20mmm shells which can be used to arm the latter aircraft.
The PAF is known to have 20mm stocks as its decommissioned jet fighters, the Northrop F-5 "Tiger" and Vought F-8 "Crusader" jet fighters, are equipped with 20mm autocannons as secondary weapons.
But Canaya said efforts are now underway to ensure that the latest PAF supersonic jets are armed with modern weaponry.
"(The FA-50PH weapons) are now in the pipeline," Canaya stressed.
Two of the country's first FA-50PH jet aircraft arrived at Clark Air Base, Angeles City, Pampanga last November 28.
These two are part of the 12-plane order from KAI which amounted to Php18.9 billion.
The F/A-50 (the other designation for the FA-50PH) is capable of being fitted air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 "Sidewinder" air-to-air and heat-seeking and radar-guided missiles.
It will act as the country's interim fighter until the
gets enough experience of operating fast jet assets and money to fund the
acquisition of more capable fighter aircraft. Philippines
Incidentally, the F/A-50 design is largely derived from the F-16 and they have many similarities: use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons.
KAI's previous engineering experience in license-producing the KF-16 was a starting point for the development of the F/A-50.
The aircraft can carry two pilots in tandem seating. The high-mounted canopy developed by Hankuk Fiber is applied with stretched acrylic, providing the pilots with good visibility, and has been tested to offer the canopy with ballistic protection against four-pound objects impacting at 400 knots.
The altitude limit is 14,600 meters (48,000 feet), and airframe is designed to last 8,000 hours of service.
There are seven internal fuel tanks with capacity of 2,655 liters (701
gallons), five in the fuselage and two in the wings. US
An additional 1,710 liters (452
gallons) of fuel can be carried
in the three external fuel tanks. US
Trainer variants have a paint scheme of white and red, and aerobatic variants white, black, and yellow.
The F/A-50 uses a single General Electric F404-102 turbofan engine license-produced by Samsung Techwin, upgraded with a full authority digital engine control system jointly developed by General Electric and Korean Aerospace Industries.
The engine consists of three-staged fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an afterburner.
Its engine produces a maximum of 78.7 kN (17,700 lbf) of thrust with afterburner.