Only three out of twelve aircraft might be currently operational after delays in the supply chain of spare parts.
The Philippine Air Force confirmed that some of its FA-50PH jets are currently non-operational and are undergoing scheduled mandatory maintenance. The statement arrived after reports mentioned that only three out of twelve aircraft might be operational because of delays in the supply chain of spare parts which are affecting all the users of the Korean-made aircraft.
“While it is true that we have FA-50 aircraft that are currently on non-operational status, most of them are just ongoing scheduled maintenance which are mandatory precautionary checks and they will be back in the air soon,” said Air Force spokesperson, Col. Ma Consuelo Castillo, in a message released to the Philippine News Agency.
Although the statement did not address the number of jets affected by the issue, it did confirm the delays of the supply chain. “Some are also awaiting spares which are coming from abroad. These parts are mostly what we call Time Change Items (TCI) and they need to be replaced after certain hours of use to ensure safety of flight operations,” said Col. Castillo.
According to the spokesperson, the supply chain was slowed down because of the recent global events. Col. Castillo continued by saying that the jets will return to the air as soon as the needed parts are delivered and that, in the meanwhile, the PAF is still able to perform its assigned missions efficiently even with a limited number of aircraft.
The Philippines acquired twelve FA-50PH, which were delivered from 2015 to 2017, and is currently looking at expanding the fleet. The Korean jets, considered the PAF’s premier air combat aircraft, became the first supersonic jet to be fielded by the country after the retirement of the F-5 in 2005. In fact, the FA-50, which is a light fighter variant of the KAI T-50 trainer, has a top speed of Mach 1.5 and can be armed with AIM-9 air-to-air missiles and various air-to-ground munitions, in addition to an internal 20 mm cannon, to perform air defense, attack, and other support missions.
The delays in the supply chain might affect also the other users of the aircraft, which currently include Indonesia, Iraq, South Korea, Thailand, and Colombia. It is not known how this will affect the deliveries of the FA-50s ordered few weeks ago by Poland, which will become the first European user of the aircraft. As we reported, the Polish MoD is procuring 48 jets to replace the post-Soviet fleet of MiG-29s and Su-22s operated by Poland. The deal included K2 main battle tanks and K9 self-propelled gun-howitzers, also made in South Korea.