The Philippine Air Force (PhAF) received a total of 37 F-5A and F-5B fighter aircraft from 1965 to 1998, but by 2005 only 10 were operational, and within that same year these 10 were retired from active service, leaving the defense of Philippine airspace to only a couple of AS-211 Basic Jet Trainers. The PNoy Administration of course just bought a dozen FA-50 Fighting Eagle aircraft, the first brand-new true fighter aircraft bought by the Philippines in almost 40 years, but in the back of my mind I’ve always wondered whether it is still possible to revive and even modernize our F-5s. After all, the more capable aircraft we have around to defend our skies, the better.
So what would be the benefits of having these overhauled and modernized F-5s? Well, countries like Singapore (F-5S) and Brazil (F-5EM) use theirs mainly as Lead In Fighter Trainers (LIFTs) and Interceptors, and with weapons/equipment like Multi-Mode Radars (MMR), Helmet Mounted Sights (HMS), High Off Boresight missiles and Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles, they are actually better armed and equipped for air combat than our FA-50s. The advantages of the FA-50s are that they would likely require less maintenance and have better availability because they are brand-new; And that they have a Fly-By-Wire (FBW) system and a built-in simulation system.
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