DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said the two FA-50 combat aircraft that arrived in the country in November last year had come from South Korea and not from the United States as President Duterte had stated.
Lorenzana issued the clarification following the President’s speech before the Filipino community in Indonesia last week, that the two FA-50s, which he claimed were just for show, had come from the United States.
“Mukhang nagkamali lang siya (It looks like he made a mistake),” said Lorenzana. “Iyong FA-50 is from Korea. Sabi niya dalawa lang binigay, hindi eh labindalawa iyon (The FA-50 is from Korea. He said only two aircraft were given, but there were 12).”
In his speech before the Filipino community in Indonesia on Sept. 9, the President belittled the US defense assistance to the Philippines as for “ceremonial” purposes only.
He said: “We have received so many things from America. Thank you for your generosity. What they sold us, two, only two FA-50 (fighter jets). It’s FA-50 but they never gave us the missiles and the bullets and the cannons to fight. For ceremonial lang (only).”
Manufactured by the Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI), the FA-50s are expected to serve as the PAF’s lead-in trainer. Lorenzana said 10 more FA-50s will arrive in batches next year as part of the 12 planes purchased for the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ P18.9-billion modernization program.
According to IHS Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft, the FA-50 type, although billed as a “light” fighter, has a potent air-to-air and air-to-surface capability.
“The type has been flown by South Korea and the Philippines, with Iraq set to receive its first aircraft shortly and Peru considering an offer of the aircraft,” said IHS Jane, considered the most trusted and respected public source of defense, risk and security information in the world.
Lorenzana said the FA-50 would serve as lead-in fighter, which means it could serve both as a trainer and fighter plane for Filipino pilots who have not experienced flying fighter planes for a long time.
The defense chief said it will take many years to train fighter pilots from the Philippine Air Force to fly real fighter planes.
“So FA-50 first, and then later on, if we have capabilities to purchase real fighter planes, we will do that,” he said.