Govt to spend P497m for FA-50 maintenance
The Department of National Defense has earmarked P497.05 million for the acquisition of spare parts and other components needed for an unscheduled maintenance of the newly acquired FA-50 fighter jets from South Korea.
The FA-50s, known as the “Fighting Eagle,” were part of an P18.9-billion contract for 12 units with South Korea.
With a top speed of Mach 1.5, or one and a half times the speed of sound, and fitted with air-to-air missiles and heat-seeking missiles, the fighter jets were used in operations against the Maute terrorist group which has been holed up in Marawi City since May 23.
The jets, however, have been grounded after a “friendly fire” incident killed two soldiers and injured 11 others last week, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said.
“The FA-50 will momentarily be pulled out from deployment until the investigation is finished and once we ascertain the reason why the bombs went off target,” AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said.
“The AFP is suspending the use of that particular aircraft. For any further airstrike until such time that the cause of the accident has been determined, or the failure of the equipment has been determined,” he added.
This was the second time troops were killed in a friendly fire incident in Marawi. In May, an Air Force SF-260 jet dropped its payload on members of the 55th Infantry Battalion, killing 10 soldiers.
Despite the incidents, Padilla said the FA-50 has been effective in providing air support.
“The success rate of the aircraft is very high. Out of the 70 plus missions, this is the only time when you had one wayward bomb that didn’t hit its target,” he said.
While the Korean jets are grounded, the military can still use its other air assets, including the OV 10 and MG-520 bombers, and attack helicopters against terrorist positions in Marawi City, Padilla said.