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Air Force to start acquisition of fighter jets by 2011

July 2, 2008 10:37am
LAPU-LAPU CITY, Philippines - The Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Wednesday said it will start acquiring fighter jets by 2011 to boost the country's air power for territorial defense.

During the PAF’s 61st founding anniversary celebration held at the Benito Ebuan Airbase, Air Force chief Lieutenant General Pedrito Cadungog said the country had been lacking in fighter jets with the decommissioning of a fleet of the ageing F-5 three years ago.

Cadungog said it would cost the county at least P50 billion for the initial acquisition of the fighter jets.

“As a respected nation, we must have a projection of military power. Otherwise, who is going to respect us? No one will respect us... (Presently,) we have a very very limited capability in terms of external defense," Cadungog said.

The top Air Force official noted that with the decommissioning of its F-5 fleet in 2005, the Air Force had relied on its S211 aircrafts - which are actually designed as trainer planes - for the task of territorial defense.

Cadungog said that while there are no external threats to the country, a fleet of fighter jets is necessary to prevent possible violations of the country’s airspace, and protect the country's airspace as an economic resource.

“If we are not going to guard that (airspace), we cannot collect any fee (from aircraft using our airspace). They can violate our airspace until they want. Unfortunately, some do not understand this. They may be asking ‘who is our enemy?’. But we have an airspace to protect because that is also part of our economic resources. We should be billing aircraft passing (the country’s airspace)," Cadungog said.

Cadungog said the Air Force is presently in the process of making a study of what type of fighter jets they are going to acquire. He said the acquisition can only start after 2010 which is the projected defeat of internal security threats.

“(We will make the acquisition) after 2010. As a matter of fact, that is what we call the horizon 2. We're looking beyond the horizon, by 2011," said Cadungog on when the Air Force will begin acquiring fighter jets.

“As a matter of fact, we are very busy right now making all the researches what (fighter planes) is appropriate for us. Our staff, key staff officers, are there making evaluation on that...The process of acquisition takes a lot of time. We have to start now if we want to have supersonic jets by 2015. As early as now, we should start the process. We cant buy them over the counter," he added.

Already, the military is in the process of acquiring attack helicopters with night-flying capability which he said are crucial to the defeat of internal security threats. The procurement of such helicopters, however, suffered a setback early this year due to alleged bidding irregularities. - GMANews.TV
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