December 2, 2015

South Korea delivering Golden Eagle light fighter-attack aircraft to the Philippines

South Korean Air Force T-50 Golden Eagle (with public relations paint job)  (Photo courtesy Dmitriy Pichugin (Photos at via Flugzeug)

One of two newly acquired FA-50PH fighter jets is given a water cannon salute while taxiing on the runway at Clark Air Base, Philippines, November 28, 2015 (Photo courtesy VOA News).

“S” has provided the following details in Comments of [November 28, 2015 at 8:29 PM] and [November 29, 2015 at 10:28 AM] at Philippines Naval Challenges – Submarines Less Useful of  October 21, 2015. Pete has further translated some of the English:

A South Korean article [in Japanese] reports that Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), delivered the first two Korean-made light fighter-attack aircraft (FA-50PH) to the Philippines on November 27, 2015. The FA-50PH has been specially modified for the Philippine Air Force as a multirole fighter all-weather version of the KAI T-50 Golden Eagle

Since the late 1990s South Korea has been developing the T-50 Golden Eagle with technical assistance from Lockheed Martin. The T-50 uses the high power GE F404 engine used in the F/A-18 to achieve supersonic flight. The engine is expensive and its re-export to the Philippines needed US  approval.

In March 2014 South Korea agreed to sell 12 FA-50PHs to the Philippines for about US$420 million in total. 


As a weapons export it is a successful deal. But, as a country strategy, it is a risky deal. If the Philippine uses the FA-50PH against Chinese ships, South Korea may face fury of China.

The delivery of the first two FA-50s to the Philippines [notes 1 and 2 below], brings new tensions to the South China Sea situation [3]. 

An expert pointed out a possible eventual war in the South China Sea, [see note 4]: Deputy dean of global studies at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Professor Joseph Siracussa, previously told China was “spoiling for a fight” and an eventual war in the region was inevitable. “Once you militarise a problem, you don’t get a diplomatic solution,” he said.”The trigger is there, it’s just waiting to happen. This will happen. This is about power. The South China Sea has become a flashpoint for war.”

[1] (Voice of America)“Philippines Gets 2 New Fighter Jets Amid S. China Sea Tensions”
[2] (Chinese, 新浪网)” South Korea began deliveries to the Philippines two FA-50 fighter”
(Chinese环球网)”Philippine President agreed that "under the original capital" to buy weapons desire to strengthen the South China Sea military”

Please connect with Submarine Matters within Philippines Naval Challenges – Submarines Less Useful of  October 21, 2015.

(with some translation by Pete)


Anonymous said...

Considering Chinese aircraft have harassed Philippine aircraft in the past:

It's not surprising that the Philippine Air Force would want to re-join the supersonic jet club.

Even though they're starting to get the jets, it doesn't mean they will be ready for combat any time soon. According to:

"Upon delivery, the jets' munitions will still undergo another procurement
process. It takes two to three years more before the jets can be completely
armed, Defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin disclosed.

The government is eyeing an Israeli firm to supply the jets' munitions

The procurement of these armaments could come during the "Second Horizon
Project" scheduled from 2018 to 2022. The First Horizon is from 2013 to

I wonder what weapons they're going to buy from Israel?

Nicky said...

Hi pete,
As such the Philippines brought trainers and never brought the Weapons. Which is why the Philippines have a long way to go before they can go toe to toe with anyone. The problem with the Philippines is that they don't have many people who are highly educated enough to operate and maintain any advance military gear.

Anonymous said...

I introduce latest article [1] on this topic.

The Philippines is in a hurry to enhance armaments. The aim is to correspond to China’s intensified military pressure, such as constructing artificial island in the South China Sea atolls over which the Philippines claims sovereignty.

However, after US withdraw her military from the Philippines with the end of the Cold War, the naval power development of the Philippines is most delayed in the region, and the Philippines are seeking further assistance by US military and Japan.

As FA-50 is developed based on the training aircraft, its performance is limited. The newly organized fighter unit will be to the airfield at the Subic Bay which was a major base of the US Navy at the Vietnam War. As air defense radar network is not developed, there is concern in the effective operation of FA-50.

For this reason, the Philippines Department of Defense announced the additional defense equipment plan totaling 44 billion pesos (ca. 115 billion yen) of up to 18 years in the ceremony day (Nov. 28th). According to Reuters, 2 frigate ships, 8 amphibious attack vehicles, 3 anti-submarine helicopters, 2 long-range patrol aircrafts, 3 air search radars and fighter support system will be introduced.

The United States had completely withdrawn the troops from the Philippines until 1992. Last year, the Republic of the Philippines and the United States signed the Enhanced. Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), and US changed the policy to re-station the troops against the Chinese hegemony expansion in the South China Sea. However, the Philippine Supreme Court has continued to unconstitutional examination on the EDCA.

[1] , (Sankei News, Dec/01/2015, Japanese)

Nicky said...

That's why Anonymous, the F/A-50 is nothing more than a Pocket fighter and a point defense fighter that is on par with the BAE Hawk 200. Also, the US refused to sell the Philippines the AIM-9, AIM-120 and AGM-65 missiles because of what's happening in the Philippines.

Brad Johnson said...

This looks like a good move for the Philippines, as the Kia T-50 looks to be this century's F-5. In the current market of advanced trainers the KIA T-50 blows away the rest of the contenders by a long shot, the Alenia Aermacchi M-346, Alpha Jet, BAE Hawk and Aero L-159 don't even come close in climb rate, thrust to weight, speed or Gs. I guess they could tried to get a deal on some lightly used F-16s, but otherwise the KIA T-50 is the only game in town for high performance trainer/light attack jet fighter for anything close to 20 million.
Maybe the new T-X trainer for the US will turn up something else but I wouldn't be surprised if Lockheed wins the T-X with a design heavily based on the KIA T-50.
The EL/M-2032 is not slouch for a radar either. The KIA T-50 is short on range, top speed and payload compared to a 4.5 gen frontline fighter but would it be able to compete with Chinese jets? I would leave that to pilots who have flown it, but based on the specs, I see no reason why, giving the right hands on the stick, the KIA T-50 wouldn't give them a run.

Peter Coates said...

I'm guessing that the Philippines may mount Israeli versions of the minigun (probably 7.62mm - maybe up to 20mm) on the FA-50PH. Israel may be able to provide minigun pods similar to the US M18 and SUU-11/A Series - see

This would be cheaper and easier to operate than air to air missiles, with fewer export controls.

Also a mini-gun can also be used against ground targets or against patrol boats.

The Philippine Air Force also has an internal counter-insurgency function - particularly against Muslim separatists in Mindanao. Such separatists might already recieve bursts from OV-10 Broncos


Brad Johnson said...

"F/A-50 is nothing more than a Pocket fighter and a point defense fighter" I think a refurbished F-16 probably would have been a better choice, but if ITAR is preventing AIM-9, AIM-120, likely the F-16 is off the table too. This is the best low cost alternative, if the Link-16 is equipped to talk to long range coastal radar and navy frigates, the lower powered radar is less of a concern.
"on par with the BAE Hawk 200" 4 times the climb rate, this much higher performance. Basically it is a lower power, lower weight, smaller F-16, not a bad concept for a low cost fighter. You can't load up the payload on this, but if all you are looking for is A2A, a couple of AIM-9 (Python) and a couple AIM-120 (Derby), that isn't much of a problem. For A2G with 8000lb of payload can still deliver some ordinance, though probably not very far.
If the Philippines decides they need a more capable tactical fighter, then they can transition this into a LIFT role.

Anonymous said...

"I'm guessing that the Philippines may mount Israeli versions of the minigun (probably 7.62mm - maybe up to 20mm) on the FA-50PH. Israel may be able to provide minigun pods similar to the US M18 and SUU-11/A Series"

Note that the FA-50PH already has an internally-mounted 3-barrel 20mm cannon:


"The FA-50PH uses the A-50 Gun System (A-50GS) which is unique in that only the TA-50/FA-50 family of aircraft uses them as of now. It is made by the American company General Dynamics and is a smaller and lighter version of the M61A2 Vulcan Gatling Gun used in most American fighter aircraft like the F-15 and the F-16. The A-50GS has three barrels that are rotated during firing, and it has a firing rate of 50 rounds per second. It has caliber of 20 x 102 mm, ammunition capacity is 204 rounds, and the cannon itself only weighs 134 kg.[7] Its maximum effective range against aerial targets is the same as that of the M61 which is around 1.5 km."

Peter Coates said...

Thanks Anonymous [Dec 3, 7:00PM]

Glad I guessed right :)

50 x 20mm rounds per second would certainly make a hole in any unsuspecting aircraft, helicopter, boat or insurgent.

I've blogrolled rhk111's Military and Arms Page under "Submarines".



Anonymous said...

The FA's is already out fitted with 1-20mm 3-barrel rotary gun. No need to arm it with inferior guns. We do have some 275mm unguided rockets and a bunch of dumb bombs you can mount on it. As for the 20mm ammo it is still under bid as well as 24 units of short ranged AAM's.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [2/4/16 5:11 PM]

Thanks for the details.