MANILA The Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga will start operating and housing the Philippine Air Force (PAF)'s 12 FA-50 PH "Fighting Eagle" light-lift fighter trainers by fourth quarter this year.
The move is in coordination with the PAF's "Balik Basa" program, 5th Fighter Wing public information officer Lt. Gary Regalado said in a text message to the Philippine News Agency Wednesday.
"Basa Air base will re-establish itself as the PAF's first line of air defense against all threats both foreign and domestic. Moving the FA-50s back to Basa ensures that we become the center of air defense operations here in the Philippines," he added.
The 5th Fighter Wing is the PAF unit tasked with fast jet operations and air defense.
The first two aircraft were delivered last Nov. 28, 2015 while the last two of the PAF's 12 plane-order with Korea Aerospace Industries were delivered on May 31, 2017.
The FA-50PHs have 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.
Formely, Basa Air Base was the home of the PAF's former fighter mainstays, the Vought F-8 "Crusader" and Northrop F-5 "Tiger" before their decommissioning in 1988 and 2005, respectively.
At present, Basa Air Base is hosting the PAF's three remaining SIAI-Marchetti S-211 jet trainers.
"So far, the focus will be the FA-50s. This will begin in the last quarter of this year. Projected date would be sometime in October. However these are all subject to change," Regalado said when asked on when the FA-50PHs will be transferred to Basa and whether air assets will be deployed. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency