The Philippines Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has issued special allotment release order (SARO) for the purchase of 12 FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer aircraft from South Korea.
The release of the order allows the national defence secretary to issue the notice to proceed with the purchase of the aircraft.
Philippines defence undersecretary Fernando Manalo was quoted by The Star as saying: "The NTP, once received and concurred with by the supplier, will be the start of the contract implementation."
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) received a $420m contract from the Philippines Government in March 2014 to supply 12 FA-50A multi-purpose fighters to the Philippine Air Force (PAF).
The delivery of the FA-50s is expected to begin 18 months after the opening of the letter of credit and will be completed by 2017.
Funded by the Revised Armed Forces Modernization Programme, the PHP18.9bn ($463.3m) FA-50 procurement contract is said to be the biggest in the Philippines military’s upgrade efforts, and aims to augment PAF’s territorial defence capabilities.
The government is also reportedly planning to purchase precision guided bombers, air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles and basing support for the FA-50 fighters.
Unnamed officials had earlier told The Star that the munitions may be purchased through negotiated bid and public bidding. The basing support is estimated to cost PHP135.9m ($3m).
The FA-50 is a multirole fighter variant of KAI’s T-50 Golden Eagle and features upgraded EL/M-2032 pulse-doppler radar, advanced avionics, a longer radome, a greater internal fuel capacity and a tactical datalink.
The aircraft is scheduled to be used by the PAF for training, interdiction and disaster response missions, in addition to reconnaissance and survey operations.
The PAF’s F-5 Freedom Fighter jets were retired in 2005. It had initially planned to procure used F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft from the US, but dropped the plan due to budgetary constraints.
Image: The FA-50 is a multirole fighter version of the T-50 Golden Eagle aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Sergey Ryabtsev.