- The AFP has confirmed FA-50 fighter jets were used in bombing the terrorists in Mindanao
- A military official described the FA-50s’ airstrike as a ‘surgical operation’ with specific target locations
- It was the first time the fighter jets acquired from South Korea were used in actual combat
MANILA, Philippines – The brand new FA-50 jet fighters from South Korea set off on its first actual combat this month to destroy an enemy of the state – the terrorists in Mindanao; this was confirmed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año on Sunday, January 29.
Año said the Philippine Air Force (PAF’s) “Fighting Eagle” were deployed and conducted airstrikes in Butig, Lanao Del Sur on January 25.
In an interview with Rappler, the AFP chief described the aircraft as ‘efficient’ but declined to give any other details of the mission.
“The FA-50 was not only for external or for ceremonial. It can be used also for internal security operations and this is a good justification for its procurement because it’s a very precise machine when used in combat,” Año said in Filipino.
The jet fighters were acquired from South Korea through the AFP modernization program initiated by the past administration amid the then raging maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
Aside from the FA-50s, attack helicopters also joined the operation in Mindanao before ground troops were sent to clear the area.
Another military official said the terrorist groups suffered major casualty due to the “surgical air strike and a well-directed and observed artillery rounds” that landed accurately on the target’s identified locations.
“They are now cautiously advancing to their designated objectives – the location of ASG leader Isnilon Hamilon, his select group, and the Brothers Abdullah, Omar, and Otto Maute, and possibly other foreigners joining their notorious group,” AFP spokesperson Colonel Edgardo Arevalo said.
Isnilon is believed to have been seriously wounded from the airstrikes and intelligence reports said he badly needed blood transfusion and could possibly die from it.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) commander, described the FA-50 airstrike as a ‘surgical operation’ with specific target location.
He also vowed to relentlessly pursue the lawless groups and “will not allow these terrorists to thrive in any part of the country” or “sow terror among the people”.