Philippine Air Force Will Deploy FA-50 Fighter Jets In Australia For The First Time

South Korean FA-50 drops bombs.

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) will deploy a fighter plane to participate for the first time in Australia’s large-scale multilateral air combat exercise this year.

PAF spokesperson Col. Maria Consuelo Castillo on Tuesday said that the Philippines will send an FA-50 light fighter aircraft for Australia’s Pitch Black Exercise in August.

“We’re getting ready for deployment for Pitch Black [exercises] in August,” Castillo told reporters in a phone interview.

“The Philippines will have an aircraft involvement since we will deploy a fighter aircraft, that is our plan for [Exercise] Pitch Black,” she added.

Castillo also confirmed that FA-50 deployment will be done for the first time. “It’s our first time participating with aircraft this year,” she told Global Defense Corp.

To date, the PAF has 12 FA-50s, which was acquired from Korea Aerospace Industries for P18.9 billion during the administration of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino Jr.

Castillo likewise pointed out that the ongoing bilateral drills between the PAF and its United States counterparts will also serve as a preparation for the airmen in their deployment in Exercise Pitch Black.

Last year, Manila deployed personnel as observers in Canberra’s biennial drills.

The first leg of this year’s Pitch Black will be held from July 15 to August 1, according to the Royal Australian Air Force.

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.

Australia is a regular observer in Philippine military drills like the Balikatan exercise.

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