The jets were ordered under a $415 million contract in 2014 with deliveries beginning in late 2015 and have already been employed in airstrikes against Islamic State-linked militants holed up inside a town in the south of the country.
The reports of the delivery of the FA-50PHs, which are a dedicated light attack variant of the T-50, comes as the Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told local media that the military had sent a Lockheed-Martin C-130 Hercules transport aircraft to the United States to pick up additional munitions for its aircraft.
He did not disclose the type of munitions delivered, although Defense News understands that it includes Raytheon AGM-65G2 Maverick air-to-surface missiles. A FA-50PH was seen carrying a pair of inert Mavericks during a parade at Clark Airbase near Manila, the capital of the Philippines, commemorating the Philippine Air Force's 70th anniversary July 7.
KAI has found success in filling a niche market for its T-50 family in countries that require a light attack capability in addition to the advanced or lead-in fighter role, with Indonesia and Iraq joining the Philippines and Thailand as export users of the type.
The latter two countries have already indicated that they are seeking to acquire more aircraft to meet their respective requirements, while KAI is also partnering with Lockheed Martin in offering the T-50A, which is based on the FA-50, to the U.S. Air Force for its T-X program to replace the Northrop T-38 Talon trainer.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News. He wrote his first defense-related magazine article in 1998 before pursuing an aerospace engineering degree at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia. Following a stint in engineering, he became a freelance defense reporter in 2013 and has written for several media outlets.