ONE of the two brand new South Korean-made FA50 “Golden Eagle” lead-in fighter jet platforms of the Philippine Air Force was rendered non-operational after its engine was hit and totally destroyed by a “bird strike.”
“It’s true, one of our FA50 had a bird strike and was grounded because its engine was totally destroyed. I just don’t know if it was only one or both engines,” a former officer of PAF who asked not to be identified told the Manila Standard.
The Manila Standard tried but failed to get an immediate comment from PAF spokesman Colonel Araus Robert Musico and learned that the incident was not reported.
According to the source, the bird strike hit the FA50 jet at the PAF’s runaway at Clark Airfield in Pampanga sometime in March.
“As of now, only one of the FA50s is able to fly because the engine of the damaged jet has not been replaced,” the source said.
In November 2015, the first batch of two of 12 FA50s ordered from the Korean Aerospace Inc. was delivered to PAF. Two more are set to arrive before the end of 2016 and the rest until 2017.
The supersonic lead-jet fighters that are yet to be armed with missiles were bought by the government with a total amount of P18.9 billion.
During the election campaign, President Rodrigo Duterte had criticized the procurement of the lead-in jets as a “waste of money.”
At present, Duterte has prioritized the procurement of naval fast-craft and high-speed combat helicopters to first address the internal security operations especially in Mindanao where kidnapping remains a problem.
But Duterte has promised to continue modernization efforts being started by the previous administration.