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Philippines edges closer to FA-50 deal

The Philippines appears to be moving closer to a long-awaited deal to obtain 12 Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50 fighter aircraft.

A statement posted on the website of the country’s president quotes a spokesperson as saying that questions posed about the deal by the country’s leader, Benigno Aquino, have been “sufficiently answered.”

Apparently his questions revolved around how the aircraft will be paid for.

A number of unsourced media reports in the Philippines have also said that the deal will go forward soon.

When asked for clarification on the matter, KAI said that the company had been hoping to close the deal in late 2013, but there was a disagreement about payments. KAI wanted Manila to pay 52% of the acquisition cost up front, but Manila only wanted to pay 15%. The manufacturer estimated the total value of the deal at $422 million.

Nonetheless, KAI’s involvement in negotiations has now been concluded, and the final stage of negotiations are being conducted on a government-to-government basis.

The Philippine air force can use the FA-50 both as a trainer to regenerate its ability to operate fighters, and as a combat aircraft if necessary. The nation retired its last fighter type, the Northrop F-5, in 2004.

The FA-50 is entering service with the South Korean air force, and in late December Iraq signed a $1.1 billion contract for 24 aircraft. The Iraqi aircraft are designated as the T-50 trainer variant, but a source close to the deal says that its aircraft will actually be the more advanced FA-50 variant.

The FA-50 is the most advanced variant of the T-50 family. Seoul's FA-50s will have the Link 16 tactical data link, as well as an Elta Systems EL/M-2032 pulse doppler radar.

The FA-50 also has a radar warning receiver and a night vision imaging system. It is capable of carrying 4,500kg (9,920lb) of weapons, including the BoeingJoint Direct Attack Munition and Textron CBU-97 Sensor Fused Weapon. The FA-50 also has a 20mm cannon and can carry air-to-air missiles.

The other two variants are the T-50B performance aircraft, and the TA-50, a lightly armed version of the T-50 with a 20mm cannon and the ability to carry air-to-air missiles.

All T-50 variants are powered by General Electric F404 engines.

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