South Korean jets to be featured in free public air show in Pampanga

Pilots from the Republic of Korea Air Force's (ROKAF) 53rd Air Demonstration Group (Black Eagles) fly eight KAI T-50B Golden Eagle aircraft and perform acrobatic stunts during an airshow at Basa Airbase in Floridablanca, Pampanga on August 15, 2022. (Photo by Philippine Air Force)

Supersonic jets from South Korea will conquer the Philippine skies next week as they are set to participate in an airshow that can be witnessed by the public for free on a first come, first served basis.

The Black Eagles Airshow and Friendship Flight will feature flying assets from the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) at Clark Air Base in Mabalacat City, Pampanga from March 3 to 5.

Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo, PAF spokesperson, said the airshow will coincide with the celebration of the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and South Korea.

"This event is a testament to the strong bond between the Philippines and South Korea, showcasing their shared commitment to airpower excellence as they celebrate 75 years of their diplomatic relations," Castillo said on Friday, March 1.

"The highlight of the event will be the awe-inspiring aerial display by the renowned Black Eagles aerobatic team from South Korea. They will showcase their breathtaking skills and precision with captivating maneuvers throughout the three-day event," she added.

The airshow will begin with a special "Friendship Flight" on March 3 where Filipino air force pilots will fly FA-50 light fighters alongside their counterparts from the 53rd Air Demonstration Group or Black Eagles, the flight display team of ROKAF, who will utilize T-50B acrobatic demonstrators "in a joint display of friendship and collaboration." It will be an exclusive airshow for attending dignitaries from the Philippines and South Korea.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. will spearhead the opening day as the guest of honor and speaker.

After that, the event will be open to the public on March 4 to 5 with limited slots for viewing. Interested individuals may register through the registration link only from the PAF's official Facebook page.

Gates will open at 1:30 p.m. and the airshow will begin at 3:45 p.m. on March 4 (afternoon edition); while gates will open at 7 a.m. and the airshow will begin at 9:20 a.m. on March 5 (morning edition). 

In 2022, eight pilots from the Black Eagles participated in the public airshow held at Basa Airbase in Floridablanca, Pampanga.

The pilots used KAI T-50B Golden Eagle aircraft, a supersonic advanced fighter jet which is a variant of the PAF's FA-50 light combat aircraft, to perform a fly past which was an application of their real-time warfare formations. Their performance had to be postponed for at least an hour due to light rain.

The Philippines became the first ASEAN nation to establish diplomatic relations with the South Korea in 1949.

When the Korean War broke out in the 1950s, the Philippine government deployed 7,420 service members to South Korea to help them fend off invaders from the communist North Korea.

It was during the Battle of Yultong in 1951 that the relations between the Philippines and South Korea was fortified as Filipino forces from the 10th Battalion Combat Team defended Yultong, now part of Yeoncheon, from elements of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army 34th Division.

ROKAF’s Black Eagles and its Philippine counterpart, the PAF’s Blue Diamonds, flew the same fleet of aircraft in the 1950s such as the P-51 Mustang fighter bomber aircraft, F-86 Sabre transonic jets, and F-5 Freedom Fighter supersonic aircraft.

This continued up to this day as the PAF operates South Korea’s home-grown F-50 fighter jets which were acquired from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) in 2015, and heavily relied upon during the Battle of Marawi in 2017.