19 Desember 2014
Three S-211 pilots selected for training in South Korea (photo : pdff)
MANILA (PNA) -- Three veteran SIAI-Marchetti S-211 jet pilots have been selected by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) for training in South Korea to fly the South Korean made F/A-50 "Fighting Eagle."
PAF Air Defense Wing director for operations Col. Ernesto Miguel Okol said on Wednesday these pilots will be sent to Seoul by March to begin the three-month long training which will end in May.
The F/A-50 selectees all have the rank of major and have more than 1,000 hours of S-211 jet flight time, Okol said but declined to name them "for security reasons."
During their three-month training, the Filipino pilots will fly the Mach 1.5 capable "Fighting Eagle" jet aircraft.
This is considerably faster than the S-211 which has only a top speed of Mach 0.8 (around 460 miles per hour).
The pilots will use the newly-built jets from Korea Aerospace Industries for their flight training, Okol said.
"Suffice it to say, we'll be back to supersonic again," Okol, a former Northrop F-5 "Tiger" jet fighter pilot himself, added.
The PAF's last seven F-5s, out of a total of 35, were retired from the PAF service in 2005 due to airframe cracks, high fuel costs and difficulty in finding spare parts.
The latter jet aircraft has a top speed of Mach 1.6.
The turbofan-powered S-211s were originally designed as trainers and secondary attack planes, but were refitted with avionics equipment and machine guns in recent years to take on air defense.
The Philippines is acquiring 12 FA-50s from KAI for PhP18.9-billion.
Two of these are expected to be delivered by December 2015. Four more may be delivered before President Benigno S. Aquino III's term ends in 2016.
The PhP18.9-billion package includes training, while a separate package worth about PhP5 billion is for the armaments, Okol said.
Aside from the three pilots, a team of two officers and 32 crewmen will also be sent to South Korea to train in maintenance.
Another set of PAF captains and lieutenants will also be sent for training in Korea soon after.
Aside from the jet acquisition and training and armaments procurement, the government has also promised to fund the basing for the aircraft as well as their integration training, Okol said.
The F/A-50s will be based at Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga.