Half Philippine fighters grounded, FA-50PH spare parts issues

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MANILA ($1=58.75 Philippine Pesos) — The Philippine Air Force [PAF] is experiencing problems after having to ground half of its equipment. There is a shortage of spare parts for the FA-50PH light attack aircraft. Only three of these light fighter jets are operational, and the remaining nine aircraft are grounded.

Photo credit: European Post

The PAF confirmed that they were experiencing problems, but they said the situation was not stressful. According to PAF spokesman Consuelo Castillo, a large number of FA-50PH non-flying aircraft are undergoing scheduled maintenance. That means checking the plane’s systems and some additional ground testing. The PAF says their planes will be in the air soon.

Castillo confirmed the Philippine sources’ information about the spare parts. He assured, that the spare parts have been ordered, but did not mention when the delivery would take place. PAF’s grounded FA-50PHs that these aircraft have reached specified service hours. Without replacing the obsolete parts with new ones, they cannot be returned to the air for safety reasons.

FA-50PH customers will also be affected

The customers of FA-50PH will also be affected due to the spare parts crisis. FA-50PH operators include Indonesia, Iraq, South Korea, Thailand, and Colombia. The only European country that will use this aircraft in Poland, but the order was signed only a few weeks ago and the Polish Air Force does not actually have the FA-50PH.

The FA-50PH spare parts crisis may turn out to be bigger than expected. A signal for such a development is precisely the problem of the Philippine Air Force. I.e. The Philippines cannot yet receive the spare parts planned ahead of time, despite the country’s geographic location (regarding logistics and fast delivery) and the good relationship between South Korea and the Philippines.

Philippine Air Force

Besides the FA-50PH, the Philippine Air Force consists of seven OV-10 Bronco units [USA] and six EMB 314 / A-29 Super Tucano units [Brazil]. I.e. The PAF’s 12 FA-50PHs are the main air defense combat platform.

The FA-50PH has its combat history in the Philippine Air Force. This aircraft has repeatedly participated in training operations and missions. It is often used for close air support against terrorist operations in the region.

Photo credit: Defence Blog

Manila is clearly happy with the use of the FA-50PH. A signal for such a claim is that in recent months the Philippine Air Force has announced its intentions to buy more units. According to Philippine and South Korean sources, the new order may be for upgraded FA-50PHs. I.e. FA-50PH not only to carry out close air combat but also to be equipped with air-to-air missiles beyond visual range [BVR].

About FA-50

The FA-50PH was developed on the T-50 Golden Eagle trainer. Its production began in 2001. To date, just over 200 units of this aircraft have been produced. As strange as it sounds, the FA-50PH is the world’s best-selling combat aircraft and one of the best-selling light attack aircraft in the world.

South Korea is believed to have 60 units of this aircraft. It is being developed by Korea Aerospace Industries [KAI] and Lockheed Martin. Depending on the customer, a specific version is developed.

The aircraft is powered by one General Electric F404 afterburning turbofan engine [built under license by Samsung Techwin], 53.07 kN [11,930 lbf] thrust dry, 78.7 kN [17,700 lbf] with afterburner. The maximum flight speed is Mach 1.5. Its thrust/weight is 0.96.

Photo credit: KAI

Armament for close air combat is one 20 mm [0.787 in] General Dynamics A-50 3-barrel rotary cannon, 205 rounds. Often the air-to-air missile in the aircraft’s armament is the AIM-120 AMRAAM. The air-to-ground missile is a Naval Strike Missile, but the manufacturer plans for the next aircraft to be armed with the German-made KEPD 350K-2. The plane was also loaded with several bombs.

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