MANILA, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- The Philippines apparently is ready to buy a dozen FA-50 Golden Eagle light jet fighters and trainers from Korea Aerospace Industries.
The positive decision, reported by the Philippines Daily Inquirer, follows seven months of negotiations between the Philippine government and KAI and amid ongoing tension between the Philippines and China concerning the sovereignty of islands in the South China/West Philippine Sea.
"We did not only inch closer, we are almost there," Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo, chairman of the military's Bids and Awards Committee, told reporters in Manila last week.
"We are considering it [the FA-50] as not just an ordinary lead-in fighter because it can deliver short range missiles, and there is a potential for these to be classified as beyond the short-range fighter aircraft," Manalo said.
The newspaper said the final agreement for the planes -- worth $415.7 million -- will likely be signed next month.
The FA-50 has a top speed of about 1,100 miles per hour and was developed with Lockheed Martin. It functions as an advanced trainer and as a multi-role fighter.