Spare parts shortage grounds almost all Philippine Air Force FA-50 fleet

Philippines spare parts FA50
Philippine Air Force FA-50 light fighter jet.

While the RoKAF Black Eagles aerobatic team is continuing a massive promotional campaign of the KAI T-50/FA-50 jet across the border, spare parts shortages encountered by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) could scare off some potential buyers. The good availability of spare parts is among the fundamental parameters in the evaluation of a new aircraft.

According to local media, only three of the 12 FA-50 aircraft owned by the country's air force are currently operational while the others are "down" due to spare parts problems.

Aircraft maintenance personnel are said to find it difficult to find spare parts to replace damaged aircraft parts due to logistical problems.

"The story is that the flow of logistics and maintenance is not parallel," according to a PAF officer, adding that most of the country's FA-50 aircraft are unable to fly due to periodic maintenance.

The problem does not stem from the maintenance crew's skills but rather the logistics required to maintain the aircraft.

"It is like a car, some components are problematic and therefore we have to replace them where we call them 'time change items.' It is scheduled to be repaired and we requested spare parts but they have not arrived yet," he said.

Meanwhile, PAF spokesperson Colonel Maria Consuela Castillo admitted that the problems encountered have affected air defense operations but assured that the Air Force is still carrying out the missions that have been set.

"We are still able to carry out external defense operations but our capabilities (the air force) are very limited," she said.

Castillo said some of the FA-50 aircraft had to be suspended due to maintenance work on the aircraft and could not provide an exact period in which the aircraft would be fully operational. She said it all depends on when they receive the parts from the aircraft manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI).

"We have not confirmed when the FA-50 aircraft will return to operation, we have informed about the spare parts we need and we are waiting for them," he said.

Considering that the distance between the manufacturer's headquarters and the Philippines is very limited, any customers in Europe could suffer much more from this problem.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Image: Korea Aerospace Industries

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