The Philippine Air Force (PAF) will regenerate its "fast mover" capability once the decision to acquire South Korea's TA-50 "Golden Eagle" becomes final.
The ability refers to the capacity to intercept aircraft intruding or encroaching over the country's airspace. Fernando Manalo, DND undersecretary for finance, munitions, installation, and materiel, said that the TA-50 offers the PAF the best means to reacquire such capability.
"It may be small and not that fast, but under the hands of a well-trained and capable pilot, this plane can prove itself a much for much faster and bigger aircraft," he said.
The PAF lost its interception capability in 2005 when it formally retired the last 10 F-5 "Tiger" jet fighters in its inventory due to airframe aging and lack of spare parts.
The T-50 "Golden Eagle" design is largely derived from the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and they have many similarities: use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons.
Korea Aerospace Industries, the designer of the TA-50, developed the the aircraft from the US F-16 "Falcon".
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 ft), and airframe is designed to last 8,000 hours of service.
There are seven internal fuel tanks with capacity of 2,655 liters (701 US gallons), five in the fuselage and two in the wings.
An additional 1,710 liters (452 US gallons) of fuel can be carried in the three external fuel tanks.
T-50 trainer variants have a paint scheme of white and red, and aerobatic variants white, black, and yellow.
It uses a single General Electric F404-102 turbofan engine produced by Samsung Techwin) and upgraded with a full authority digital engine control system jointly developed by General Electric and Korea Aerospace Industries.
The engine consists of three-staged fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an afterburner.
The aircraft has a maximum speed of Mach 1.5.
Its engine produces a maximum of 78.7 kilo Newton (17,700 pound force) of thrust with afterburner.
The aircraft can also be fitted with heat-seeking missiles, 20mm to 25mm automatic cannon, various surveillance equipment and is very capable of undertaking the air-superiority role due to its sleek design.
And once the go-ahead signal is given for the TA-50, the DND official expressed confidence that the fighter will be in PAF service within two year's time.
"We will get two immediately for training purpose so that when the 10 other aircraft arrive, our pilots are already trained for its use," Manalo said.
"The other good thing about the TA-50 is that we will (be) buying it straight from the manufacturers. We will be its first-time users and not the second or third as in previous PAF aircraft," he said
.Asian Defence News