THE Philippine Air Force’s two newly-acquired FA-50 fighter jets will be participating in the annual military exercise between the Philippines and the United States that will start on April 4, the Air Force spokesman disclosed.
According to Col. Enrico Canaya there will be training on air intercept, interdiction and close air support during the period of the Exercise Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) 2016.
The US Hawker Hunter, a transonic British aircraft, will act as “aggressors” during the drill, a military official said.
“Even in the US, they use the hawker hunters as their standard aggressor,” said the official, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on the matter.
He added that the Philippines’ FA-50s could also be the aggressors in the maneuver. “They can switch roles in a simulation,” the official explained. “But in general, Hawker Hunters are created in mainland US for training purposes.”
Canaya said that prior to the actual air maneuvers to be held mostly in the northern Luzon area, there would be classroom instructions first.
Besides the FA-50s, he added, the Philippine Air Force’s S-211 aircraft will also be participating in the exercise.
“This is definitely a good opportunity for us to increase, to enhance our training, especially with our counterpart…” he stressed. “This will further increase our training experience. This is a good development on our side.”
It may be recalled that the Department of National Defense (DND) sealed a contract last year with the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) for the acquisition of 12 jets to the tune of P18.9 billion.|
It originally planned to procure a squadron of 24 jets but reduced it to 12 because of funding problems. The remaining 10 fighter jets will be delivered in batches up to 2017. FERNAN MARASIGAN