How Does the FA-50 Golden Eagle Compare to the F-16C Block 52+ Viper?

Revised June 2, 2016. See bottom of the page for the complete revision history

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An FA-50 Golden Eagle in flight. Photo courtesy of Korea Aerospace Industries thru Flickr.
An FA-50 Golden Eagle in flight. Photo courtesy of Korea Aerospace Industries thru Flickr.

The Department of National Defense (DND) has indicated the intention to buy the FA-50 Golden Eagle (or Geagle),[1] but some individuals in the Philippine defense sector has expressed doubts about its capability as a combat aircraft.[2] Hence out of curiousity I wanted to compare it to a more popular combat aircraft like the F-16, for example, from which it was actually based from.

‘Aircraft Backgrounds’
The F-16 was made by the American company “General Dynamics”, and first entered service with the United States Air Force (USAF) in 1978. It is described as an all-weather Multi Role Fighter (MRF) and one of the most successful modern aircraft designs as eventually over 4,500 were built and went into service into more than 26 countries worldwide.

The F-16C Block 50/52+ is the latest mass produced version of the aircraft first introduced into service in 2006 with a dorsal compartment for the 2-seat versions, conformal fuel tanks, advanced avionics like better radar and helmet mounted sight, and a more powerful engine. The official name of the F-16 is the “Fighting Falcon”, but its pilots preferred to call it the “Viper” after the fighter spacecraft in the Science Fiction TV series “Battlestar Galactica” back in the 1970s.[3]

The FA-50 is made by the South Korea’s “Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI)”, and is a smaller, license-built version of the F-16 Fighter aircraft. It is intended as a Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) which can also be used as a Lead-In Fighter Trainer (LIFT) for more advanced aircrafts, and will enter South Korean Air Force service starting 2014.[4] As of this time, the Philippine Air Force is (still) negotiating for the final procurement of the FA-50 into service.

‘Evaluation Notes’
For the “Maneuverability” and “Payload and Range” sections, the following considerations were made:
– Weights with 100% internal fuel was used to try to simulate the aircrafts going into combat with full internal fuel after dropping their external Fuel Tanks.
– The weights of the armaments were not included as the RATIOS and DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BOTH AIRCRAFTS will remain the same if they will be armed with the same type and same number of armaments.
– Fuel density of 0.81 kg/l was used to convert fuel capacity to kilograms
– Data for each aircraft was derived from various websites at [5][6][7][8].

The F-16C Block 50/52+ uses Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFTs) which allows it to carry more fuel (approximately 1,363 kg more) without allocating less SPACE for weapons (i.e., doesn’t have to occupy a pylon). These will also not increase F-16’s RCS significantly since they are “blended” into the aircraft’s body. The only penalty for using these CFTs is that less WEIGHT will be allocated for weapons. Data highlighted in bright yellow refers to the F-16C with CFTs.

‘Manueverability’
For both aircraft’s maneuvering capability, I am looking at their WING LOADING* and THRUST TO WEIGHT RATIO.* I would’ve wanted to take a look at more aspects like Stalling Speed, Maximum Alpha, etc., but those data are hard to come by for both aircrafts. Hence, these should suffice for now. Remember that a lower Wing Loading means the aircraft can turn tighter and vice-versa, and a higher Thrust-to-Weight Ratio means the aircraft can go faster going straight up or straight down and vice-versa.
Geagle-Viper_Maneuverability

* SUMMARY
– WING LOADING: Favors the Geagle with its 15-29% lower wing loading
– THRUST TO WEIGHT RATIO: Favors the Viper with its 11-23% higher thrust to weight ratio

+++ Overall the result is a surprisingly even contest as each aircraft has its own strength, and the differences are about the same, hence they end up cancelling each other out. This means that if both planes are flown by pilots of equal skill and sticks to his plane’s strength, they will have a more or less even match.

‘Payload and Range’
The next aspect I am looking at are the the Payload (weight each aircraft can carry externally), and Range of each aircraft. For Range, I am using INTERNAL FUEL FRACTION (INTFF)* as a rough indicator how far each aircraft can go based on the INTERNAL fuel available to them.
Geagle-Viper_Payload_and_Range

* SUMMARY
– INTFF: Favors the Viper by 7-33%, indicating it can travel 7-33% for the same engine fuel efficiency.
– PAYLOAD: Favors the Viper as it can carry 67-104% (2,458-3,821 kg) more load

+++ The Viper is the winner over the Geagle as it can carry 104% (3,821 kg) more load 7% farter, or it can carry 67% (2,458 kg) more load 33% farther if it carries CFTs

‘Air Combat-related Avionics and Weapons’
Here I wanted to compare the capability of both aircrafts in terms of Within Visual Range (WVR) and Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air combat. This can be done by comparing some of the avionics and weapons they can use. Additional notes:
– Data for the FA-50’s Radar Cross-Section (RCS) is only ASSUMED to be 80% that of the F-16 as no reliable data is available for it, and that the Geagle is about 80% the size of the F-16.[4]
– Data for the detection range of the F-16C’s AN/APG-68v9 radar may not be reliable as it was taken from an military enthusiast’s website since no data has been released for it by the manufacturer.[9]
– Other data for Avionics and weapons for both aircrafts were taken from these websites:[10][11]
Geagle-Viper_Avionics

* SUMMARY
– WVR Capability: Here the Geagle is at an extreme disadvantage as it does not have the default mandatory avionics nowadays to be competitive in close-range air combat like a Helmet Mounted Sight and High Off-Boresight missiles
– BVR Capability: Favors the Viper as the Geagle does not have the capability to use medium range air to air missiles yet. The Viper’s radar detection range is also vastly superior as it will be able to detect the Geagle at 70 km, or 116% further than the Geagle can detect the Viper which is at only 32 km

+++ Even if the Geagle is certified for use with medium range air to air missiles, the Geagle’s radar is just too weak at least in the air-to-air mode compared to that of the Viper, hence despite the Geagle’s estimated low RCS, it still won’t help it much terms of detecting the other aircraft first. The Viper can detect and shoot down the Geagle long before Geagle can even detect the Viper.

‘Parting Shot’
The above results above show that except for MANEUVERABILITY, there is a significant difference between the Geagle and the Viper in terms of RADAR RANGE, AIRCRAFT RANGE, PAYLOAD, AVIONICS and WEAPONS. Its one thing to expect it, but its another to actually see and get a better idea on how big the difference really is. It is still possible to upgrade the Geagle’s Avionics to remove some of its shortcomings, but it will be at great cost, time and effort, something which we may not have and which may not be worth it anyway since you will still have the other deficiencies.

Despite KAI’s pronouncements, I don’t think the Geagle can really be considered as an LCA at this point, it just has so many shortcomings to be at that level, at least in this day and age, anyway. It fits more the description as still a LIFT, despite the fact that this is supposed to be a more capable version of the T-50, which is the designated LIFT in KAI’s Golden Eagle line.

So the big question is, should we still get the Geagle, then? I think there is still room for the Geagle in our air force, but in vastly different roles. For one, even if we do get a better combat aircraft or Multi Role Fighter like the JAS-39C Gripen, we will still need a LIFT for it. Without a LIFT, the gap between our Basic Jet Trainer, the AS-211 and aircrafts like the Gripen is just too large to enable pilots to transition to the Gripen SAFELY, hence a need for an “intermediate” aircraft in between which the Geagle can fulfill.

Second is that despite its limitations in payload and range compared to the Viper, the Geagle still has excellent ground attack with night/adverse weather capabilities which we never had before with previous aircrafts like the F-5A Freedom Fighter and OV-10 Broncos. I plan to highlight the Geagle’s ground attack capabilities in a blog to be released hopefully soon …

An excellent picture of an F-16C Block 52+ showing its enlarged dorsal spine and Conformal Fuel Tanks.  Photo courtesy of K. Krallis thru Wikipedia Commons.
An excellent picture of an F-16C Block 52+ showing its enlarged dorsal spine and Conformal Fuel Tanks. Photo courtesy of K. Krallis thru Wikipedia Commons.

SOURCES:

^[1] Philippine Air Force’s FA-50 fighter acquisition programme moves ahead,
http://web.archive.org/web/20151108071543/http://www.airforce-technology.com/news/newsphilippine-air-forces-fa-50-fighter-acquisition-programme-moves-ahead

^[2] Second crash has PAF rethinking P18.9-B Korean FA50 jet option,
http://web.archive.org/web/20131207182554/http://www.interaksyon.com/article/69819/second-crash-has-paf-rethinking-p18-9-b-korean-fa50-jet-option

^[3] General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon,
http://web.archive.org/web/20160416200428/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-16_Fighting_Falcon

^[4] KAI T-50 Golden Eagle,
http://web.archive.org/web/20160322090438/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KAI_T-50_Golden_Eagle

^[5] F-16C/D Block 50/52 Plus,
http://web.archive.org/web/20160126210147/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Dynamics_F-16_Fighting_Falcon_variants

^[6] FA-50 Specifications and Features,
http://web.archive.org/web/20160304023518/https://www.koreaaero.com/english/product/fixedwing_t-50.asp

^[7] Army and Weapons – Deadly KAI T-50 Golden Eagle,
http://web.archive.org/web/20150927034843/http://deadlyweapons-army.blogspot.com/2011/11/deadly-kai-t-50-golden-eagle.html

^[8] KAI FA-50,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXauYBgqnHw

^[9] Which Fighter Plane is the No:1 in the Indian Subcontinent in the BVR(Beyond Visual Range) arena?,
http://web.archive.org/web/20160105112629/http://www.angelfire.com/falcon/fighterplanes/texts/articles/bestfighter.html

^[10] KAI contracts for serial production of the FA-50,
http://web.archive.org/web/20160602135535/http://www.koreaaero.com/english/pr_center/cpr_view.asp?pg=1&seq=25400&bbs=10

^[11] Fighter Mig-21 Fishbed,
http://web.archive.org/web/20160325024513/http://enemyforces.net/aircraft/mig21.htm

* GLOSSARY

–> WING LOADING = is the amount of weight the wing supports during flight, and is expressed in weight per area, or in the metric system, kg/m^2. This is computed by: (Wing Area divided by Weight). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wing_loading

–> THRUST TO WEIGHT RATIO = means how much power the aircraft has compared to its weight, and is expressed by a simple number. This is computed by: (The maximum thrust of the aircraft’s engine divided by weight). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrust_to_weight_ratio

–> INTERNAL FUEL FRACTION = is the weight of the internal fuel the aircraft compared to its maximum take-off weight, and is expressed by a simple number. Formula used is: (Maximum internal fuel capacity divided by maximum take off weight). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_fraction

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Revision History:
(0) September 5, 2013: Originally posted
(1) November 25, 2013: Major blog overhaul in terms of data and conclusions, especially in terms of avionics and weapons as better references for the FA-50 Golden Eagle has finally become available from the manufacturer or has been found.
(2) June 2, 2016: Web-archived links on “The Wayback Machine” website, updated Revision History and End Note formats to the latest bstandards.

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68 thoughts on “How Does the FA-50 Golden Eagle Compare to the F-16C Block 52+ Viper?”

  1. apples to oranges. you are comparing two aircraft with two different roles and totally ignoring why the PAF is getting the Golden Eagle in the first place.

    the F/A50 is, first and foremost, being bought as a Lead In Flight Trainer (LIFT). even the program that brought about the planned procurement was known as the Lead In Flight Trainer/Strike Attack Aircraft procurement program. in other words, it is a training aircraft brought in to bridge the gap between the S211, which is a basic Jet Trainer, and Multi-Role fighters. along the way, its radar and fast jet characteristics are to get pilots used to fast jets, without the costs.

    the second component of the program was strike attack. in other words, the plane in question should be able to take on secondary strike duties, and not be haphazardly converted just to fit the role. If you think this is unusual, think again. numerous LIFTs have strike variants, or were easily converted to carry out strike missions. the Sepecat Jaguar, the AlphaJet, the MB339, the Hawk 200, the L39/L159 ALCA come to mind. and the A-4 Skyhawk later had a new lease on life after its days as a strike aircraft as a LIFT for the RSAF and the IAF.

    just because it can carry BVR missiles, have internal jammers, or carry a better than decent radar does not mean it can compete with the big boys of the MRF variety. thats just a bonus, not really the reason for being of the Golden Eagle. at most, as a LIFT variant, it could probably aspire as a Light Combat Aircraft like the Tejas. as such, it fits that role perfectly. after all, this was the role it was designed for by the South Koreans. a light fighter capable of holding its own, but a fighter that works best in tandem with more capable aircraft like F-4s, F-15s, and F-16s.

    again apples versus oranges……

    1. miggye, the manufacturer, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) CLEARLY made the FA-50 as a “Light Multi-Role Fighter” aircraft. It says so in all of their references to the aircraft, and they DO have a Lead-In Fighter Trainer (LIFT) which is the T-50 Golden Eagle. Now, if an air force wants to use the FA-50 as a Lead-In Fighter Trainer (LIFT) aircraft, that is their prerogative, but the designation relies on the air force using them. Northrop designed the F-5 Tiger as a Multi-Role Fighter, and yet now they are being used by almost all Air Forces that still has them as LIFT.

      If you are saying that the Philippine Air Force is getting the FA-50 as a LIFT, then the obvious question is why not get the T-50 instead which KAI intended as such in the first place? Why even get the FA-50 at all, then? Do it like Iraq, then, which considered the T-50 but bought the M-346 as LIFT, AND THEN also bought the F-16C Block 52+.

      1. well you see mate, AFP is in a bind. If we get to the T50s, we might see another s211 in the making where after buying s211s, the MRF purchase supposedly did not proceeded as planned. At least with the FAs we get a LIFT, and a plane with a secondary role to strike albeit minimally. Plus the speed to catch up with small intruders on our airspace.

        I for one am for you preference of a dedicated LIFT and F16s pero LIFT pa lng kinukwestyon na, MRF pa kaya?

      2. I don’t think that if we buy T-50s, the government will not buy MRFs anymore. The S211 were very clearly Basic Jet Trainers, and yet we still didn’t buy MRFs after buying them. The problem really is the cost, fighter aircrafts are just too expensive, we can barely afford them. Worst is the fact that they are CONSUMABLES in the sense that their wings, airframes and engines have limited lives and has to be replaced after a certain number of flying hours.

        One possible solution I am looking at is to buy cheap MRFs like the FA-50s, and then just supplement them with SAMs. Its a long blog, one I might get around to doing in a week or so, but I feel for a budget conscious country like ours, it might be a better alternative.

        The FA-50 will do well as an interceptor, as long as you pair it with and AEW or ground radar with Link 16 capability, then you can use the bigger radars for targetting info. But then again, who knows, maybe my data for the ELM-2032’s air detection range is outmoded, and is actually much better now. I hope KAI will release MORE specific data for the FA-50 soon so we can check it out better …

      3. you are forgetting the designation of the program- Lead In Flight Trainer/ Strike Attack Aircraft. IF you followed developments as you claim you did, you would know that the original entry from SK for the program was the T/A-50 which went head to head with the M346, the YAK130, the L159 ALCA, and the Hawk 200. IF you really followed the program, you would also realize that the M346 was also a capable aircraft, but questions arose about its certification on its weapon capability. it was not fully certified with its alleged weaponry when the bidding happened. then, to top it off, the KAI offered the F/A-50, which it claimed could do combat intercepts as well as the strike role and the LIFT role.

        but then again, as i pointed out, it is a light weight fighter, just like the F-5 as you pointed out. even during hey day of the PAF, the F-5 was a light fighter. the actual interceptor before the the AFP started its decline was the F-8 Crusader. take a look at the doctrine the RKAF had in place for the F/A-50, and you would find it to be complementing the MRFs, not replacing them. that is the role of the LCA/LWF (as in Tejas, Hawk, Jaguar, etc.)

        apples and oranges, and the PAF is aware of this……

      4. * RE: “you are forgetting the designation of the program- Lead In Flight Trainer/ Strike Attack Aircraft.”
        + The FA-50 has always been described either as a “fighter aircraft”, and not as a LIFT. Here are three sources, one from Flight Global, and two from South Korea.
        http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/kai-wins-w11tn-contract-for-fa-50-fighters-385524/
        http://newsday.kr/d01/50961
        http://newsday.kr/d04/79756
        + If you have a verifiable source that says that the “official” designation of the FA-50 is as “Lead In Flight Trainer/ Strike Attack Aircraft”, feel free to post it here.

        * RE: “IF you followed developments as you claim you did, you would know that the original entry from SK for the program was the T/A-50”
        + I’m not “claiming” anything. I simply pointed out what Iraq did, if you look at my post again, you won’t see anything there says, “I claim to follow the developments of the Iraqi procurement”.

        * RE: “… take a look at the doctrine the RKAF had in place for the F/A-50, and you would find it to be complementing the MRFs …”
        + I am not aware of such a “doctrine”. Again, if you have a verifiable source, feel free to post it here so everyone will be “educated”.

      5. RHK111, you have a little more reading to do.

        The T-50 variant is the AJT.

        The Lead in Fighter Trainer (LIFT) is the variant TA-50.

        The LCA is the FA-50. It’s all there in the OEM’s supplied info, a little research won’t hurt.

        Due to our particular situation, and with KAI’s ability to tailor fit the FA-50 to End User requirements, the PAF Variant is the LCA, that came with embedded LIFT training software systems.

        I hope this helps.

        Again, this information is all out there,

      6. Do me a favor: Don’t PATRONIZE me about the “reading” that I need to do on my fakking blog, okay? If you want to stress a point, then do it politely, just like normal people do.

        Now if you want to go by how the manufacturer itself calls the aircraft, a quick check on KAI’s website shows that they themselves call the FA-50 an “Advanced Trainer”: http://www.koreaaero.com/english/

  2. you claim little, yet you post a lot……… and don’t you think the PAF has done its due diligence? read up on their press releases, they always state that this is a LIFT with combat capability. look up press releases from Peter Paul Galvez, or from the PAF. the doctrine is also online, if you would care to look. here’s a cookie for you, from GlobalSecurity.org (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/rok/a-50.htm) : “once mass production starts in 2013, FA-50 fighters will replace A-37 attack jets and F-4/F-5 fighters IN THE LOW TIER BACK-UP TO THE AIR FORCE’S KF-16S AND F-15KS…..”

    if it could do the LIFT part of the contract, then why submit it for consideration at all and just submit the T/A-50 as they had originally done?

    here’s an example, as reported on the international press……

    http://www.airforce-technology.com/news/newsphilippine-air-force-acquire-fa-50-jets-kai – note the paragraph that starts with “Primarily intended for training….”

    http://www.airforce-technology.com/news/newskai-to-supply-additional-fa-50-fighters-to-south-korean-air-force

    and if you actually read up on the topic, some local press did above average coverage. all of these press articles highlight that the Golden Eagle was bought as a combat capable TRAINER……

    http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/08/08/1066661/air-force-pilots-train-new-golden-eagle-planes

    http://www.asian-defence.com/2013/03/review-for-south-korean-fa-50-ongoing.html

    http://www.asian-defence.com/2013/03/tor-for-fa-50-golden-eagle-now-being.html

    http://www.zambotimes.com/archives/news/62255-TOR-for-FA-50-Golden-Eagle-now-being-crafted.html

    1. Look, I have said it once, and I will say it again: KAI intended the FA-50 as a Multi-Role Fighter. Why else would they change the designation to “FA” instead of “T” when they could’ve continued to use the “T” designation and change the version if they intended it to be just a trainer in the first place?

      On top of that, they clearly made changes on the aircraft to make it function better as an MRF, giving it more capability than just a trainer. It has better radar housed in a longer nose radome that allows it to have better air to ground or air to surface capability. It has better avionics, like a the Link 16 Tactical Data Link and even a Helmet Mounted Sight/Display. Now, if an Air Force out there wants to use it as a LIFT, then that is their prerogative to do so, nobody will stop them from doing that.

      I don’t know why you feel you have the need to go out and insist that everybody call it a LIFT, but I am telling you now that this issue will not go anywhere, at least not with me. There is nothing out there will change the fact that KAI intended it as an MRF. I suggest you take your case to KAI, but as far as I am concerned, it is a Light MRF.

      1. The FB-111 Aardvark is strictly an attack bomber in the vein of an A-5 Vigilante, but it also has the “F” to it designated as Fighter Bomber.

        Regardless of designation, the more accurate description would be in terms of its intended, designed application.

        To be really FACTUAL, we got to get the facts straight, and not leave it to our individual opinions.

        So, where do we get this information? The best would be from the OEM, KAI, and the FA-50’s principal EU, the RoKAF.

        Again, this is publicly available information, published, by both KAI and the RoKAF.

        The intended use of the FA-50 is Strike, ground attack, with secondary use as a Force Multiplier to the KF-16s and KF-15s, with its AD/AAW load out being more appropriate for CAP-Point AD duties, which again is publicly available information given out by KAI and the RoCAK CONOPs for the FA-50.

        In the PAF context, as of the moment, it’s intended use use are for LIF to the PAF’s eventual MRF purchase, with ADIZ enforcement and TD duties.

        In a sense, it’s the interim MRF because we have nothing better.

        Just like the AS-211 Warriors. Despite the lack of modern avionics, weaponry and capabilities, it was for years, the PAF “MRF” by virtue of us having nothing better. By default.

        The Geagle’s MRF variant that the KAI proposed to come out with was the single-seat F-50. Note the absence of the “A” in its proposed designate.

        It was to have a larger, longer nose, making more capable avionic fit outs (e.g better AESA radars, etc) possible.

        And more fuel, addressing the short legs the T/TA/FA-50 variants have.

        And some other changes that I won’t mention, as it is moot and academic, since the KAI is pursuing, by virtue of RoKAF requirements, their indigenous Stealth Fighter, the KFX.

        (This variant remained a paper proposal, as KAI went the KFX route.)

        Again, to place finality in the argument. Straight from the OEM and Principal End User, plus PAF requirements.

        T-50 = AJT Variant

        TA-50 = LIFT variant

        FA-50 = LCA with Force Multiplier Roles in RoKAF CONOPS.

        FA-50PH = LCA with LIFT embedded Systems, for LIFT roles and dual use as Interim MRF.

        Emphasis on the “INTERIM”, as when the PAF MRF purchase happens, the FA-50 will revert to its intended use as LCA-LIFT/Force Multiplier.

        Again, I hope this. This is not my Opinion.

        But an exposition on the OEM and Principal EU’s intended, designed, and actual use.

    2. OR, more appropriately…

      The FA-50 is a LCA, with the FA-50PH coming with the embedded LIFT systems, as per End User Requirement.

  3. emphasis on light, guess that’s why this is a blog. if maybe you are willing to listen, maybe it would go somewhere. i was involved in the bidding, but for Alenia. i have flown LCAs.

    in the end, my country decided to go for what they believe is a superior product, and i will respect that.

    but thinking a LIFT, or even a LCA derivative of one is anywhere near a true MRF is delusional. the PAF isn’t deluding themselves, and so is the RKAF………

    next time, i would suggest you read more, and try to widen your research and listen before jumping to conclusions……….

    1. Well, its good if you’ve flown fighter aircrafts, then. However, you’d be equally delusional if you think just having done so automatically makes you an expert over everybody else. You’re not the only pilot in the world, in case you haven’t noticed. KAI has their own Pilots, Engineers and Scientists, what makes you think you’re automatically better than them for calling it an MRF? In the end, you’re just another pilot, with your own opinion.

  4. lol! and maybe your just another armchair commando who thinks he knows better than the PAF, and the RKAF.

    good luck in your blog. i know you’d need it since you seem to have blinders on. ever here 2 words: Advertising and propaganda?

    1. Armchair commando or not, its still better than your “I’m a Pilot so I know everything about aircrafts” delusion. What, you think you have better credentials than everybody else, hence everybody should say FA-50s are LIFTs just because you say so? LOL.

      Listen, Mr. Hotshot, if you were doing something really worthwhile in the defense industry, you wouldn’t be wasting your time arguing with military enthusiasts just to show off your credentials. Write a fucking blog yourself if you can if you want to, and proclaim there how everyone should have the same “opinion” as you do.

  5. it is just plain and simple…the philippine air force and our country needs the FA-50. regardless what you have argued budget wise we can only afford the FA-50. and we want the soonest possible time it will be parked in our airbases. but if we want the FA-50 it must be used only as light MRF not for training. we can send our pilots to korea and trained there and buy FA-50 simulators for our needs. the FA-50 is all we got…if we used it multi purpose, trainer same time MRF same with S-211s it will go to waste. be reminded T-50 or FA-50 is in a trainer frame if we use it trainer and also provide patrol or intercept or support fire for our troops in battle of insurgents within 5 years we might have maintenance nightmare of these aircrafts and go to cannibalizing which we are good on it.

    1. When the FA-50s come in, they will slowly pull the S-211s out from combat duty and dedicate them more to Trainer duty, and the FA-50s will be used as a Light MRF, at least until we get the full MRFs …

  6. i agree with that…but govt must understand we need a real MRF such f-16s or f-18. i go on american made jets because of spare parts such as f-16s which has still more than 4,000 still flying today and easy upgrading if budget is possible. block 50 has extend the life span of the f-16s by 2025.

    1. Don’t worry, the government will get a full MRF, maybe not anytime soon, but they will get a couple. It maybe the JAS-39 Gripen E, or the F-16C Block 52+. Or who knows, it may even be the KF-X …

  7. Phil. should at least acquire 1 LIFT squadron and 1 MRF squadron and invest more on missile defense systems….remember that Phil. will always be on the defensive side and not as aggressor if WAR broke out….

  8. The problem we will be facing if we acquire too many aircraft is maintenance and logistics cost but if Congress and Senate will be abolished then this might be possible. We have more use for aircrafts than those corrupt politicians in any given day….

  9. hahaha thats true…why make so hard for the air force and navy to get the budget when corruption cost as so much, if only those billions were source to the navy and air force we can already have a decent number of jet fighters and naval ships in our inventory. govt have made a lot of priorities but the armed forces was never given an equal chance to be at par with even asean armed forces. we are the laughing stock not only in our region but to the whole world. thats why china doesnt respect us. if we can send billion of dollars to europe in order to help then from financial crisis…here in the philippines we have security crisis where our territorial rights have been abused by our neighboring countries…why we could not give our armed forces the minimum deterrent…to those policy makers and lawmakers who turn their back of their responsibilities and make decisions to protect other countries interest or steal from the peoples money should be condemned for TREACHERY. who would like to deposit or invest to a bank without a security guard…this is the fate of our country.

  10. If only we are blessed with truly patriotic leaders we would probably have the most powerful Navy and Air Force in Asia. NPA-MILF-MNLF-Abu Sayyaf will not exist

  11. we have the most powerful navy and airforce in the region at the time of marcos because of the u.s. bases and the continued military aid poured by the u.s. when we kicked out the u.s. in clark and subic its more of popularity or public opinion in which our politcians also for grandstanding take advantage of the situation. but the sad part they do it without a contingency plan for the military. after so many years our fleet of more than 40 f-8s and f-5s were just parked on our bases cannibalized and worn out for the years of service eventually the last f-5s were retired and year 2005. were thankful today that pinoy took the initiative to at least bought 2 hamilton class for the navy and future acquisition of 12 fa-50 lead in fighters from korea. but for the military they have to bleed for budget that only rank third or fourth. rank first is health and next education. unlike majority of the nations in the world, even developing countries in the asean, military is no. 1 in their budget.

    the pride of every nation is the strength of its military that if properly employed it create economic growth and strength. why is singapore a small nation without any natural resources have to develop a strong army, airforce and navy? its obvious to protect its interest as one of the biggest trading post in the world. how abouth the philippines..how it will compare to singapore regards to natural resources, agriculture and existing territorial dispute with our neighboring asean and china?? why we dont have the necessary force to protect our interest. govt. must act fast. even corruption and pork barrel already slow as down.

    1. It is frustrating, but as we can see now there is a lot of improvement under PNoy. If good governance will continue for at least 2 more Presidents, we will catch up with the rest of South East Asia in terms of economy and defense, we just need to continue to have good Presidents …

  12. if we have 200 highly mobile land based brahmos missiles in palawan…100 in mindoro and 200 in bataan/zmbales/ilocos areas… NO CHINESE SHIPS WILL VENTURE INTO OUR EEZ.

    as an added bonus…we won’t be arguing if FA-50 is a LIFT or MRF … or a plane or not. LOL.

  13. BRAHMOS anti ship missiles has a range of 300-500km…and flies just 3meters above water at a speed of mach 3. it has a price tag of 3M each. 1 FA-50 price is enough to buy 12 BRAHMOS- – – that’s a lot of enemy ships to sink…with no maintenance and fuel cost problems, no PAF pilots lives in patriotic/glorious danger etc.

    i mean, why engage in laborious dogfights… when the missile crew can make our giant neighbor BEHAVE at lesser costs… while watching their favorite korean telenovelas or bollywood movies?

  14. if the philippines is brimming with anti aircraft and anti ship missiles, and vietnam the same…china will be in a pathetic situation. her aircraft and warships will be squeezed both sides. her aircraft will be fun to shoot at with cheap MANPADS…and her ship’s safest place will be in her ports.

    in an arms race, we can not match china’s thousands of jetfighters and 1,000 warships…that’s a lot of money for us, to burn. why not invest on cheap something instead, to negate china’s advantage… and make his huge investments in armaments useless?

    coming soon: BRAHMOS II with a speed of mach 7 and better range. hoping to see a dejected china selling her useless weapons at a bargain. LOL

  15. we should have a balance of arm equipments or system. there is still a need to have legitimate MRFs, helicopters gun ships and naval ships minimum requirement for our defense that have capability to carry anti aircraft and anti ship missiles. well, land based missile systems it maybe anti aircraft and ship missiles but be reminded these could be useless if china will have missile jamming device these will become a useless item. remember the iraq war.

    land based missiles is also a deterrent but what we should have MRFs, helicopter gun ships(with anti sub missiles) and ships that can fire anti aircrafts and ship missiles. because MRFs, helicopters and ships can easily be mobilized. land based missiles have so many flaws such as if you go around it or fly below the radar screen or jammed it can be useless in times of war unless if you are stupid enough to fly over it and let you shoot you down.

  16. where not here to go to war. and i dont think china will go to that degree. when we buy arm equipment or system is purely deterrent. deterrent not only china but any country who will cross our borders, we can send our fighters and ships in an equal capability to give the message that they are in our territory. dont think so china fighters or ships will stay long enough far away from their fuel depots.
    japan is more capable to deal with china specially they have also a territorial disputes but as an example the japanese show restraint they just send their fighters and ships side by side with china and conclusion china will just leave the place they are too far from their supply lines.

    1. China is quite close to Russia, hence I don’t think the AFP will want to get arms and equipment from them. And apparently the feeling is mutual as Russian companies have NOT attended any of our latest biddings thus far …

  17. Pound per pound even with the latest fighter technology, the Philippines cannot stand against the Chinese military. In terms of economic spending for defense and military, the Philippines does not even scratch the surface of Chinese military spending. The idea for the FA-50 is clearly for territorial defense only, meaning no long range strikes, no open offensive tactics, just quick sorties and short patrols. The Philippines is maintaining a non-aggressive stance, we are in part always had been pacifists. The Philippines does not seek to initiate any aggressive stance and offensive posturing as most “bully” countries would. The FA-50 will give the Philippines this capability, to defend our territory from external and internal operators that seek to oppress the Philippine nation. However, the nation itself clearly will not stand if the oppressor is coming from a bigger and more powerful national military. This is where our allies come into play, likewise, the international community itself. If we are attacked unprovoked, the Philippines have multiple alliances and external support to counter this aggression. Typhoon Haiyan clearly displayed this unequivocal support from our allied military forces, especially from the United States and Japan.

    Military build-up in our region is clearly becoming an issue. Other ASEAN countries are also gearing up their military in light of the Chinese military expansion. The Philippines must be the leader to show solidarity and stability in our region, and this leadership role we are clearly demonstrating by building up a defensive and humanitarian military capabilities only. The FA-50 is an effective fighter/attack aircraft due to its lightweight and ease of operation. It has also demonstrated a slow fly capability that is essential for surface rescue operations. Unlike most MRF platforms, the FA-50 is one of the few that was designed for surface search capability. Most nations does not care for such capability and opt for air superiority roles. If we did the same then the Philippines might as well have bought F-15’s and F-18’s, even the venerable F-16 platforms. But we are not portraying aggressiveness, we want anyone who enters our territorial waters and air space feel secure and confident that if an unfortunate event happens, our military forces are capable to offer assistance if needed and policing interception if required. While performing these actions–not being too aggressive or offensive.

    1. First and foremost, the FA-50 will be our Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT), and its mission as a combat aircraft is only SECONDARY. The idea is to get a better aircraft which serve as the main combat aircraft of the Philippines …

      1. we dont have to panic…china will not attack us..so long we have the capability to challenge them in our territorial waters and air its already a sign to china that we will not give an inch to our territory. the asean, u.s.a, taiwan, japan and korea will be not sitting down if china will attack us..so with india and russia who have also territorial disputes with them.
        what we need really is a deterrent that can challenge china every ship or aircraft they will send…eye ball to eye ball…
        in a war china will be the biggest losser…he has already attained as one of the biggest economy in the world..therefore war will not be in their agenda..however, those will be bullied by them will lost territory…so govt must hurry up re-arming our air force and navy before its too late..

  18. I am not a military expert but my 2 cents is the US funds Egypt for Billions of $$$, how come they give the Phils. only $50 million and its already a big deal. The US says that they are going to “pivot” their policy to counteract the China influence in Asia and considers the Phils. the closest ally in the region is it not about time that they give us more aid (material, financial) so we could defend ourselves from aggressors like China and not just rely on our defense treaty with the US for our protection as a country.

  19. when clark air base and subic naval base was lease to the united states we have $500 million military sales credit and supporting assistance. we have the strongest air force and navy in south east asia and at that time in a per equipment we are more modern than china and we can maintain our more than 60 fighter jets of f-8, f-5, super sabre jets and more than 100 navy ships patrolling the west philippine sea and our southern borders even blasting intruders and destroying illegal structures put up by other countries including china. but now, no fighters, no capable naval ships and not so much military aid. that $500 million military assistance is already very big in the 70s and 80s more than the billion dollars military aid to egypt today. this is the result when we kick out the u.s. due purely grandstanding of our politicians without any alternative or pull back options we were not able to maintain our fighters and ships and funding for replacement. now we have these shortfall of our minimum defense requirements.

    hope we learned the lesson “A BIG MISTAKE”. i rather put all those politicians to the firing squad of what they have done, stripping these country defenseless against foreign intruders.

  20. yes that is true rhk111 the $500 million is the exchange of the unrestricted use of the united states armed forces of the clark air base and subic naval base. thats why we can afford to maintain more than 60 fighter jets (f8, f5 and super sabres) and a hundred of naval ships. it is only we kick out the americans we are not able to maintain our equipments due to budget deficiency.

  21. actually AFP in 60’s to 80s are more modern than the present armed forces. we have fighter jets f-8, f-5 and super sabre, a number of M-48 medium tanks more powerful than the scorpion and these tanks are still operating in thailand and israel, about 20 LVTs with 105 guns for the marines, now only 2 are operating, we have sonars but now displayed as exhibits in military museums. i am more confident to go to war with the AFP 60s-80s circa than the present AFP hahahaha.

  22. I wish I had more time to read all the replies but I don’t. Miggye, your comment are enlightening and your point and arguments would be better appreciated if one was less inclined to do it at another’s expense. I wanted to read and learn and it started out that way till somebody had to be right and someone wrong.

    Someone took the time to research and put the data together, I respect that. If I found a flaw in the data I would point it out in a less know it all approach so the totality of the blog moves forward rather decimate to a bloody cat fight.

    Sorry, my confidence in the PAF (and government for that matter) is wanting. Due diligence and all aside, greased palms will spoil the deal and with the desire for wealth will come a decreased capability in the chosen craft. Bright minds or not in the PAF aside.

    Question… Why procure trainers at all? We are notorious for poorly maintaining whatever is government owned. Whether this be budgetary or otherwise is a blog of its own. Summa total, investing in trainers may be a waste. Why not package the training aspect with the aircraft deal that way we can go for a top notch craft? Focus on a “ROLE” aircraft and tactics directly related to the combat role it needs to play. We will not (EVER) go head to head with China simply because we cannot hope to win against numerical superiority. Intercepts and hit and run tactics, using long range (WVR I believe you called it), MUST be the primary consideration. That’s the only way I see inferior numbers going up against a whole lot more and surviving (mind you not winning). We must preserve the few to keep flying or millions will be spent and in one confrontation, we will have nothing left to counter with.

    Vietnam had no aircraft to deploy against the U.S. but came out on top in a protracted conflict, did they not?

    We need to evolve our own approach and tactics suited to our limitations. Unless carrier based, China’s aircraft have great range to contend with, we don’t. Can some of these sites can be protected from land? If yes then isn’t that a better option? Long range radar and ground based missile’s? If China were to knock out a long range missile battery in say Subic, that would be a great violation of international conduct which every nation would decry, so why send planes in “disputed” areas where popular sentiment may not be on our side?

    Planes are expensive and apparently have a short life span. So get one that we need and screw the catch all type. A wise enemy will compel us to deploy it in an unsuitable manner and we will just lose them. Aircraft to fight other aircraft with superior long range capability and early detection capability appears to be the sound option and add intercept capability. Our shores should be protected from land. An established presence being key. We lost an island already because it was occupied and we cannot send an invasion force to throw them out. China’s blue water Navy is their main defense of what they’ve taken so this should be our primary target.

    Oh BTW I am an armchair general with no military experience except for reading Tsung Tsu, I don’t fly any aircraft except in my dreams and have never been in battle unless you count a rumble or fist fight as one. So before you try and cut me down, I already did, so don’t waste your time with hate. Lets focus on making this a think tank discussion where we all come away winners please.

    1. Sorry, it won’t be able to reply to you because the arrogant moron is too busy badmouthing my blog in forums because he’s too gutless to face me here , LOL.

  23. I am not a military strategist but only an OFW. I think the best option for the Philippines to get China’s respect is to first be an economic power like Japan to be able to provide all the military hardware our AFP needs. Our government can start woooing all Japanese & US companies in China to transfer their operations to the Philippines, If our government is succesful in attracting many of these companies to invest in our economy, China will slowly weaken economically, many Chinese citizens will be unemployed, and the Chinese gov’t. will be hard-pressed to spend more for their military budget. On the other hand, our economy will start growing, more Filipinos will be employed, and our military budget will increase. We are powerless & cannot take back anymore the territories that China has taken from us and that’s the reality of it. We can only get even at China by weakening it’s economy. For our military defense, a more binding and stronger defense treaty with the US and joint operations with US air and naval forces is our only deterrent and protection against Chinese expansionist aggression and possible nuclear attack if WW3 erupts. Let our government provide the US all the military bases and facilities it requires to monitor Chinese military operations and movements along the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea. In return, we get all the intelligence we need in protecting our territorial sovereignty with our minimum credible defense capability.

  24. By the way. I think the Northrop F-20 Tigershark is better suited for the PAF than the F-16 or FA-50. Our government should have negotiated a deal with Northrop Co. to 100% license-manufacture the F-20 in our country when it lost to F-16 under the US DoD “FX” project.It is very costly but we will be self-reliant in producing our own indigenous fighter aircraft from the F-20 platform just like what South Korea did.

  25. the problem since our country is identified to have terrorist groups it will be very difficult to enter into a negotiation or deal with Northrop Co. specially such arrangement needs U.S. presidential or congressional approval. that make this deal a dead end. further, for 12 FA-50s, we have even a hard time for our budget and what it make the U.S. will be confident to engage with us with armed manufacturing when the defence budget is not our top priority unless there is a change of policy. but our corruption hungry govt officials will welcome it and U.S. knows this.

  26. I hv read all ur comments and ideas which are all good in the sense. What I can say is that the PH should come up with its own R&D if South Korea and other asian nations have done so, invest more money on this and get the bright minds and geniuses (Filipinos) instead of just buying other products. You may think it is easily said than done, that’s true…but better start now and develop our own so that we will not be depending on others, even if it takes years as long as we are on the right path we will achieve our goals later on and will be respected by other countries.
    Sad to think that the peoples money goes nowhere and wasted because of corruption, problems arise here and there….the ones to blame are we ourselves….there should be no more blaming now and let us start holding hands and start anew, work for it, have a common goal, show respect to one another, persevere as the road will be bumpy at times but I am sure in the end we can raise our head high….and be able to say “I am proud to be a Filipino” and “the Philippines is worth dying for..”

    1. Self-reliance on weapons and equipment is SLOWLY being done thru the Department of National Defense’s (DND) “Government Arsenal”. We are slowly being self-sufficient in terms of all the ammunition for our Armed Forces instead of buying these from abroad. Next will be the bombs being used by our aircraft. After that, who knows, maybe rockets, etc. But it is a slow process and won’t happen anytime soon.

  27. I’m a huge fan of the F-16 during the 90′s now with the viper upgrade, it restarted my interest on the F-16. Since the FA-50 multi-role light fighter variant is derived from the famous F-16, i think it has more to offer given time for it to evolve. Just like the JAS-39 and F-16 both came out of the LWF or light weight fighter program of different project of course, developments and advance upgrades will turn this now we call light combat aircraft to a more potent serious MRF. But only if the KAI will continue development along with its KFX program. The selection of the F-35 for its advance fighter program might hinder the FA-50 if SoKor decides to abandon its own KFX. But there is no sign of that as of now so I think acquisition of the FA-50 is timely since it will take some time before the PAF gets the funding for more advance capable MRF’s.

    1. Tama, the reason why KAF don’t want to talk about upgrading FA-50 for right now is they think the congress or Ministry of Finance won’t support the both of program (KFX which is a whole new Jet and F-50, which is next step of FA-50) I, also don’t know how it gonna be… but in my opinion, even the F-50 plan gonna be abandoned in the future, they will integrate AMRAAM or AIM-9X or at least some other BVR weapons somewhen in the future. and also they gonna do some minor upgrade. and Even some of minor upgrades are already in process. The government already spent their budget on it. And there are some more possible minor upgrades with small budget. (that won’t disturb KFX plan.)

      1. You mentioned before that the BVR upgrade for the FA-50 using the AMRAAM is worth USD 27 million, so here’s something you might find interesting: http://retiredanalyst.blogspot.com/2014/03/dnd-eyes-bvr-upgrades-for-fa-50s.html

        Our DND plans to upgrade SOME of the FA-50s to have BVR capability, but instead of the AMRAAM, they are eyeing the AIM-7 Sparrow. This is probably due to cost as the reported cost is between USD 17-22 million per plane. I think most of that will probably go to licensing cost with Lockheed Martin …

      2. Yes, that seems interesting.
        http://bemil.chosun.com/nbrd/files/BEMIL105/upload/2005/10/A-50%20%B9%AB%C0%E5%20%286%29_1.jpg
        http://bemil.chosun.com/nbrd/files/BEMIL105/upload/2005/10/A-50%20%B9%AB%C0%E5%20%2814%29.jpg
        See also these pictures. A-50 is a old name of FA-50. (before the A-50 / F-50 plan change to FA-50)
        It shows KAI and KAF want to integrate BVRAAM into FA-50 at that time.
        But since lack of budget, the plan was delayed,
        And still we aren’t sure about when they start the process that integrate BVRAAM it into FA-50.
        And the USD 27 million cost that I mentioned before is not ‘per’ plane.
        (In fact, USD 27 million is not that so expensive, but KAF has no need of FA-50 as a Air-to-Air Jet yet.)
        It’s an one time full payment as a licensing cost.
        So If someone pay USD 27 million to LM, then KAI can start to test it.
        Or maybe there are another way such as python-5, it seems just a matter of licensing cost.
        Or, I have some sources about T-X plan in US.
        As my source said, LM is willing to integrate some of BVRAAM into T-50 to make it more comepetitive in T-X contest.
        They said they gonna use FA-50 base, but improve some features of it and apply something more on it to fit it as their next training jet.
        Even the source said LM is considering to upgrade (or change) the engine F404 to F414 if USAF want higher ROC.
        But I am yet doubtful if LM let us to use their improved T-X flight without any payment.
        Hopefully with reasonable price.
        IF LM test the whole process, then KAF is gonna order that new one or at least, willing to adopt the improvements of LM version.
        Who know? PhAF can also get the benefit in the future.. If T-X plan choose T-50 (Maybe the name will be renewed)

      3. Ito ay picturan ng bagong T-50. (LM version to propose T-X plan.)
        http://bemil.chosun.com/nbrd/data/10040/upfile/201311/20131118024454.jpg
        At ito ay ROC ng T-X plan.
        http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/usaf-releases-draft-t-x-kpps-377693
        Sang ayon sa news, “The T-X must also have the ability to simulate a wide range of air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons including the AIM-120 and Small Diameter Bomb onboard.” raw.
        Kaya, it seems certain that T-50 LM version is BVRAAM-able.
        But it need to win T-X contest first.. then we can get it with / without payment.
        (Because I don’t know exactly about the T-50 developement contract between KAI and LM.)
        Maybe they can derive each other’s easily, or maybe not.
        LM is in process to enhence T-50
        http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/lockheed-says-t-50-well-suited-for-usafs-next-generation-trainer-377784
        The T-X plan is already funded and gonna be started in 2015.
        http://breakingdefense.com/2014/03/secaf-james-oks-combat-rescue-helicopter-t-x-trainer-weather-sat-jstars-also-funded

  28. Rhk111, Do you know the size of radome that MIG-21 have?
    I googled it but failed to find a source.
    But I also find the size of radome was a big problem of MIG-21.
    If so, it might solve your curiousity..
    Try to find the affection of small housed radome.
    And the estimated radome size of FA-50 is about 590mm.

      1. Thank you for giving me that source.

        Maybe you’re right or not.

        I found 2 persons’s post in korean website. The one (is assumed as a rader-engineer) said it’s about APG-67’s size, and the other said it’s about 590mm. Anyway both of them are agree with it’s at least about 500mm. (The other’s source is based on LIG NEX 1’s new AESA rader plan. they are currently developing prototype of AESA rader, and their prototype is for FA-50. And it’s lager than 20″ radome size.) Anyway, I’m not sure about how large is it.

        And also, the engineer also seems that he assumed EL/M-2032 is similar like APG-67(v)4, about 5m^2 at 75km, as same as F-16PB (the oldest F-16 model that korean goverment purchased in 1980’s), but has better capability in Air-to-Ground / Surface. (And also, KAI selected APG-67 for their FA-50 in the past, but they changed their mind so finally the 2032 was chosen. They officilly noticed, the APG-67(v)4 couldn’t reach the ROC.)

        I think you may feel that his claim sounds more realistically, so I just give it to you.

  29. I don’t think it will abandon the KFX completely since there are potential customers for the FA-50 and TA-50. For our sake the development should continue. The F-50 is the future of the FA-50 but it will depend on its marketability, remember what happened to the F-20 Tigershark? (i loved that plane so much back then), its a great aircraft that nobody wants. The FA-50 when it proves its combat capability might get a few more fans in other air forces. The upgrades are expensive like the BVR because its not standard yet, when a new version comes out in the future(ie ex: FA-50E) that integrates other advance weaponry and radars, it will be packaged and of course the price will go up.

  30. Treaties with the USA and other western allies aside… have we considered buying Russian stuff? Way cheaper for sure… at par with performance? Someone do a review…

    1. I think Russia is too close to China for comfort. Even Vietnam is now trying to diversify their arms supply away from Russia.

      Also, Russia’s newest aircraft are all twin engined, something that We might have problems maintaining …

  31. Patronize? That’s why I wrote “I hope this help”, and that wasn’t polite enough for you?

    Anyway, I won’t even bite. Good luck on your Blog.

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