GMA News Online

PAF plans to buy fighter jets during PNoy's term

July 1, 2011 3:24pm
The Philippine Air Force hopes to acquire fighter jets within the term of President Benigno Aquino III, the Defense chief said Friday, stressing PAF's lack of such assets in the past six years.

"Fighter planes are important for interdiction… Within the term of President [Aquino], we’ll have [those]," said Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin at a press conference at the Villamor Air Base during the PAF's 64th anniversary rites.

The Defense chief did not say if the fighter jets the PAF is planning to buy are brand new ones or second hand and how many.

But Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Oban said they are eyeing around six units.

Gazmin said the PAF also needs multi-role aircraft that can be used both in war and in the performance of non-traditional roles such as disaster response.

The Air Force lacks a true fighter jet since decommissioning a number of ageing F-5 jets due to growing maintenance cost requirement, he said.

Two weeks ago, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said Malacañang will increase to P8 billion (from P5 billion) the funding for the AFP Modernization Program for the next five years.

Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena said the Air Force will get at least P14 billion of the P40-billion allotted for the AFP modernization program in the next five years.

Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said the baseline for a brand new fighter jet at present is about $23 million (P996M) to $40 million (P1.7B). Nevertheless, he said that acquisition of such assets means a lot to the Air Force.

"That is definitely a very welcome development not only for the Air Force but for everybody as well, we will be able to address a lot of issues," said Okol, adding that they’ll restore the capability that fighter jets brings since decommissioning the F-5s.

Okol said the Air Force is not looking at a specific brand of fighter jets, adding this is a decision reserved for the Defense Department that handles the procurement process.

The Air Force earlier said they are helpless against intrusion of the country’s airspace without such aircraft and radars.

Last May, two unidentified foreign fighter jets intruded the Philippine territory. The two were seen by two OV-10 bomber planes conducting reconnaissance patrol off the disputed Spratlys Islands in the South China Sea (or West Philippine Sea). — LBG/RSJ, GMA News
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