SF-260 aircraft

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has reportedly suspended flying operations of its SF0-260 light trainer / attack aircraft fleet after one of the planes crashed into the sea on 31 January.

The SF-260FH was conducting formation training flight with two other aircraft after taking off from Fernando Air Base in Lipa City. It crashed about 300m off the shore in Barangay Bucana in Nasugbo township, killing two onboard pilots.

Grounding was ordered by PAF commander lieutenant general Jeffrey Delgado and will continue until the reason behind the accident is determined, as reported by Associated Press.

Philippine Air force spokesman lieutenant colonel Enrico Canaya said the three trainers were also participating in exhibition flights to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the province from Japan, during the end of the World War II.

"Grounding [of the SF-260FH] was ordered by PAF commander lieutenant general Jeffrey Delgado and will continue until the reason behind the accident is determined "

The reason for the crash and also whether the aircraft was one of the 18 new SF-260FHs that PAF had acquired in 2011, remain unclear, as reported by INQUIRER.net.

A sum of P622.59m ($14m) had been paid by the Philippines to acquire 18 brand new SF-260FH basic trainer aircraft from Alenia Aeramacchi in September 2011 in an effort to enhance the national air force’s capability to train its pilots.

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The SF-260FH is manufactured by Alenia and assembled by Aerotech Industries Philippines. It is a two-seater, high-speed, and aerobatic trainer aircraft and is designed to train pilots in advanced aerobatic techniques and high-speed manoeuvres.

The PAF currently has 16 SF-260FHs in its inventory, and some of them have been modified to perform combat missions against insurgents, reports Associated Press.

Image: A SF-260 primary trainer aircraft of the Philippine Air Force. Photo: courtesy of Philippine Air Force.