First two of 12 supersonic jets for Philippine Air Force land in Clark

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The Philippine Air Force said the two fighter jets will be used primarily for training and not for combat for now.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The first two of a dozen fighter jets the Philippines ordered from South Korea arrived on Saturday (November 28), in a historic turnover that Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin described as the return of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to the "supersonic age."

Piloted by two South Koreans, the FA-50 Golden Eagle fighter jets touched down at Clark Air Base.

The FA-50s have a top speed of Mach 1.5, or one and a half times the speed of sound. At the moment, these are unarmed, but they can be equipped with heat-seeking and air-to-air missiles and light automatic cannons.

"We're glad we're finally back to supersonic age," Gazmin said.

 

In 2005, the PAF decommissioned its 40-year-old F-5 Tiger fighter jets because of their aging airframes and lack of spare parts.

Now with new fighter jets with advanced technology, the PAF said it would need to catch up, using the first two that arrived primarily for training.

The fighter jets will undergo a series of acceptance flights by trained PAF pilots before they become part of the roster of Philippine military aircraft.

PAF spokesman Col. Enrico Canaya said the military has yet to determine when these FA-50s will be combat-ready and if they will be used to secure the country's territories in the South China Sea.

In February last year, the Philippines acquired jet fighters from Korean Aerospace Inc. for around P19 billion, the biggest military upgrade so far.

The remaining 10 fighter jets are expected to be delivered in 2017.

The PAF said, even with new fighter jets, it is still far from having a minimum air defense capability. But the acquisition is a small step for the military to have a credible defense posture as the country faces external security threats.

CNN Philippines' Gerg Cahilles contributed to this report.