South Korea and the Philippines have agreed on a $422 million deal for the purchase of twelve FA-50 light fighter aircraft. Barring any unforeseen issues, an actual contract could be signed a few weeks from now in March.
A deal for the FA-50 had been hoped for as early as last year, but a deal could not be agreed upon due to differences on the terms of the contract. A natural disaster in the Philippines caused by a Typhoon further complicated agreement on a contract.
South Korea wanted more upfront payment and less after sales support. The Philippines wanted the opposite, but both sides were able to meet each other half way to work something out.
If a contract is signed in March, the first FA-50 are expected to be delivered 18 months later in the second half of 2015. The Philippines would the become the second export customer for the FA-50 after Iraq and South Korea itself.
The FA-50 is currently the most advanced version of a family of aircraft that started with the T-50 Golden Eagle trainer version, which was developed by Korean Aerospace Industries and Lockheed
Martin. An intermediate version is known as the TA-50 light attack version.
While the T-50 was originally designed as a trainer and the TA-50 added attack capabilities, the FA-50 can function as a fighter, a role for which the Philippines has no aircraft available after it retired the last of its Northrop Grumman F-5 aircraft.