Thursday, May 1, 2014

Philippine Air Force F/A-50 "Fighting Eagle" will be capable of conducting maritime strike missions

Manila, Philippines--Department of National Defense (DND) Undersecretary Patrick Velez confirmed during the signing ceremony of the P18.9 billion F/A-50 contract Friday(March 28), that the F/A-50 "Fighting Eagle" role will not only to protect the country's airspace against hostile intruding aircraft but also to attack unwanted targets (e.g. ships) at high seas.

Usec Velez said that the F/A-50 can be configured to have the capability to do maritime strike missions by installation of anti-ships missiles, stand-off weapons, and sensors which the aircraft have in provisions.

The F/A-50's wing tip rails can accomodate AIM-9 "Sidewinder" air-to-air missile while internally behind the cockpit houses its three-barrelled cannon version of the M-61 Vulcan which fires linkless 20 mm ammunition.

The light combat aircraft is also compatible to air-to-surface weapons including the AGM-65 "Maverick" missile, Hydra 70 and LOGIR rocket launchers, CBU-58 and Mk-20 cluster bombs, and Mk-82, −83, and 84 general purpose bombs, Velez said.

Samsung Thales (STC) formally announced the development an AESA radar for FA-50 to compete with LIG Nex1's AESA radar model (photo : SamsungThales)
DND Undersecretary Velez also revealed that they are also planning to install equipment that would give the F/A-50 "Fighting Eagle" a "beyond visual range" (BVR) capability to make the F/A-50 a much more capable aircraft in defending the country's airspace.

BVR is the capability to detect, track and if needed attack air targets beyond 20 nautical miles (around 37 kilometers).

According to Velez, due to the equipment's cost which is estimated to range from P800 million to P1 billion per BVR fitting, not all 12 aircraft will be fitted.

  "We are looking at the possible installation for three to four aircraft to provide us with a long range intercept capability," Velez said.

He also added that installing BVR capability to the F/A-50s is relatively simple as the aircraft is already fitted with a decent air-to-air radar. Adjusting it to BVR standards would just mean upgrading the radar to be capable of detection at much longer range and fitting of BVR weapons like the Raytheon AIM-7 "Sparrow" missile.

AFP Chief-of-Staff Emmanuel Bautista looks at a miniature model of an FA-50 fighter jet after the signing of an agreement between the Department of National Defense and Korea Aerospace Industries on Friday. The deal involves around US$528 million worth of military aircraft and support services.
(photo : ABS-CBN News)
The Philippines and Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. signed the P18.9-billion contract for the acquisition of the 12 aircraft last Friday(March 28).

DND Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said that the first two F/A-50 jet aircraft will be delivered 18 months after the opening of the letter of credit; the next two will be delivered 12 months later, and the remaining eight jet planes in staggered basis within eight months.

F/A-50 has a top speed of Mach 1.5 or one-and-a-half times the speed of sound and is capable of being fitted with air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 "Sidewinder" air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles aside from light automatic cannons.

The F/A-50 will act as the country's interim fighter until the Philippines get enough experience of operating fast jet assets and money to fund the acquisition of more capable fighter aircraft.

The aircraft's design is largely derived from the F-16 "Fighting Falcon" and they have many similarities: use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons.

The aircraft can carry two pilots seating in tandem. The high-mounted canopy developed by Hankuk Fiber is applied with stretched acrylic, providing the pilots with good visibility, and has been tested to offer the canopy with ballistic protection against four-pound objects impacting at 400 knots.

The altitude limit is 14,600 meters (48,000 feet), and the airframe is designed to last 8,000 hours of service.

There are seven internal fuel tanks with capacity of 2,655 liters (701 US gallons) -- five in the fuselage and two in the wings.

An additional 1,710 liters (452 US gallons) of fuel can be carried in the three external fuel tanks.

Trainer variants have a paint scheme of white and red, and aerobatic variants white, black, and yellow.

The F/A-50 "Fighting Eagle" uses a single General Electric F404-102 turbofan engine license-produced by Samsung Techwin, upgraded with a full authority digital engine control system jointly developed by General Electric and KAI.

The engine consists of three-staged fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an after-burner.

The aircraft has a maximum speed of Mach 1.4-1.5.

Its engine produces a maximum of 78.7 kN (17,700 lbf) of thrust with after-burner.

(with: PNA)

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