The Department of National Defense (DND) is planning to install equipment that would give the F/A-50 "Fighting Eagle" a "beyond visual range" (BVR) capability.
DND Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez said that this is one of the upgrades they are planning to make the F/A-50 a much more capable aircraft in defending the country's airspace.
But due to the cost, estimated at P800 million to P1 billion per BVR fitting, not all 12 aircraft will be fitted.
"We are looking at the possible installation for three to four aircraft to provide us with a long range intercept capability," Velez said.
He added that installing BVR capability to the F/A-50s is relatively simple as the aircraft is already fitted with a decent air-to-air radar.
Adjusting it to BVR standards would just mean upgrading the radar to be capable of detection at much longer range and fitting of BVR weapons like the Raytheon AIM-7 "Sparrow" missile.
The Philippines and Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. signed the P18.9-billion contract for the acquisition of the 12 aircraft last Friday.
DND Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said that the first two F/A-50 jet aircraft will be delivered 18 months after the opening of the letter of credit; the next two will be delivered 12 months later, and the remaining eight jet planes in staggered basis within eight months.
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 with air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 "Sidewinder" air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles aside from light automatic cannons.
The 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.
The aircraft can carry two pilots seating in tandem. 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 the 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 aerobatic variants white, black, and yellow.
The F/A-50 "Fighting Eagle" 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 KAI.
The engine consists of three-staged fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an after-burner.
The aircraft has a maximum speed of Mach 1.4-1.5.
Its engine produces a maximum of 78.7 kN (17,700 lbf) of thrust with after-burner. (PNA)