The unusual military planes that many residents have seen and heard flying around the skies over Puerto Princesa City in the past several days are the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) newly acquired FA-50 fighter jets doing training flights as part of a joint exercise.
In a media briefing by the Tactical Operations Wing West (TOW West), Maj. Mark Anthony Madduma, flight commander of the 105th Fighter Training Squadron, said the FA-50 is their latest and most advanced fighter aircraft.
“Right now, ‘yan ang pinaka-modern na fighter aircraft na hawak natin sa Pilipinas. In the future, magkakaroon din tayo ng multi-role fighter talaga,” he said.
Madumma also said that the FA-50 has advanced radar and combat capabilities.
“The aircraft has an onboard radar, we can see other aircraft na lumilipad sa harap namin, pati weather nakikita namin kung okay ba ‘yong weather kung good condition ba ang weather. Compared sa other aircraft, capable siya of air-to-air weapon deployment or air-to-ground inside deployment,” he said.
He added that the three fighter jets are part of the 12 fighter jets the Philippines bought from South Korea in 2015.
“2015 po dumating itong FA-50 natin na ito. We have 12 FA-50 those are FA-50 PPH from South Korea. Ngayon meron po tayong three aircraft depende sa higher headquarters kung ilan ang ipapadala nila, tatlo siya intended for exercise,” he said.
He said the fighter jets’ flights that have caught the attention of city residents are being done to train their pilots and as part of their Armed Forces of the Philippines Joint Exercise Dagat-Langit-Lupa (AJEX DAGIT-PA 03-19) that will continue until September 26.
“We are just conducting exercises for more skills as pilots para ready kami sa any eventuality. This joint exercise with the Navy, tine-test namin ang capability namin to work together, to accomplish our mission as members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he said.