PH’s FA-50s now in Australia, mark first-ever overseas deployment

PH’s four FA-50s arrive in Australia, mark first-ever overseas deployment

/ 08:01 PM July 10, 2024

PH’s four FA-50s arrive in Australia, mark first-ever overseas deployment

Philippine Air Force’s FA-50 fighter jets arrive at RAAF Base in Darwin City, Australia for Exercise Pitch Black 2024. PHOTO FROM THE PHILIPPINE AIR FORCE

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) four FA-50s arrived in Australia on Wednesday, the first-ever deployment of the country’s fighter jets for drills outside the country.

PAF spokesperson Col. Maria Consuelo Castillo said the four fighter jets, along with 162 personnel, arrived in Darwin City to participate in the Exercise Pitch Black in Australia.

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“This exercise is a historic event as it is the first time that the PAF has sent its aircraft overseas for an international exercise,” Castillo said in a statement.

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READ: PAF planes join Australia-led exercise

Previously, Castillo announced that six FA-50s would participate in the drills, but the deployment was slashed to four.

“We need to retain more aircraft here to respond to operational requirements here in the country,” Castillo told reporters in a text message.

READ: West Philippine Sea: Marcos OKd purchase of more fighter jets – AFP chief

The PAF contingent will participate in the multilateral war games which will run from July 12 to August 2.

The Philippines and Australia have an existing status of visiting forces agreement, which is a comprehensive legal framework for the presence of one country’s armed forces in the other.

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Australia also regularly conducts drills with the Philippines and is a regular observer of the Balikatan exercises, the biggest annual war games conducted in the country.

To date, PAF currently uses a dozen of the South Korean-built light combat aircraft after retiring its remaining fighters in 2005. It was acquired from Korea Aerospace Industries for P18.9 billion during the administration of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino Jr.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. also green-lighted plans to purchase multirole fighter aircraft, according to military chief General Romeo Brawner Jr.

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The continuing effort to build up PAF’s deterrence comes amid Beijing’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea based on its assertion of sovereignty in the entire South China Sea, encroaching on Manila’s exclusive economic zone.

TAGS: Australia-Philippines relations, Philippine Air Force

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