PUERTO PRINCESA, — With the arrival of the South Korean-made F/A-50 “Fighting Eagle” by the last quarter of this year, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) will be at last fielding aircraft with “electronic countermeasures” (ECM) capability.
It is an electrical or electronic device designed to trick or deceive radar, sonar or other detection systems, like infrared or lasers. ECM may be used both offensively and defensively to deny targeting information to an enemy.
Col. Enrico Canaya, PAF spokesperson, said this will allow F/A-50 pilots to determine whether they are being targeted by hostile fire control radars. With the “Fighting Eagle” having this capability, he added that pilots can evade or launch countermeasures that can deceive or “spoof” enemy radars, thus ensuring their survival.
The PAF earlier said relatively updated radar systems onboard, the soon-to-be commissioned F/A-50s is able to do autonomous air patrols without relying too much on ground based surveillance systems. “(The F/A-50s) has its own onboard radar systems so it can detect (any hostile air threats) while on patrol,” it added.
The PAF declined to give the specifics of the F/A-50’s radar systems for security reasons but stressed that it is quite adequate for air patrol work.
Sources said this feature of the South Korean made jet fighter has greatly boosted the air defense capabilities of the PAF which was greatly reduced with the decommissioning of its Northrop F-5 “Tiger” jet fighter squadrons and Vought F-8 “Crusader” fleet, in 2005 and 1988, respectively.
This was done due to air frame aging and lack of spare parts to keep the two planes on operational status. With the deactivation of its two premier supersonic jet fighters, the PAF was forced to convert the SIAI-Marchetti S-211 jet trainers for an air defense role. However, the S-211s are ill-suited for air defense work due to their slow speeds
The DND earlier said that the radar systems onboard the F/A-50s is one of the many pluses why the Philippines opted to acquire 12 units of the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) made jet fighter over its many competitors.
The 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 air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 “Sidewinder” air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles aside from light automatic cannons. 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 F/A-50 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. KAI’s previous engineering experience in license-producing the KF-16 was a starting point for the development of the F/A-50.
The aircraft can carry two pilots in tandem seating. 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 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 aerobatics variants white, black, and yellow.
The F/A-50 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 Korean Aerospace Industries.
The engine consists of three-staged fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an afterburner. Its engine produces a maximum of 78.7 kN (17,700 lbs) of thrust with afterburner.