Finally lot of long pending defense deals for Philippines Armed forces go through. Multi Range fighter and Long Range Surveillance Radar System next on the acquisition wishlist.
The Philippines Department of National Defense (DND) will be signing on Friday contracts with suppliers for the manufacture of 12 training jet fighters worth P18.9 billion and 8 attack helicopters worth P4.8 billion.The defense materials are all intended for use by the Philippine Air Force (PAF).
South Korea’s Korean Aerospace Inc. (KAI) will be supplying FA50 jets and the Canadian Commercial Corp. will manufacture Bell 412 combat utility helicopters.President Benigno Aquino III had approved a total amount of P75 billion for the DND and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to achieve at least a “minimum credible defense” in the face of China’s aggressive incursions in the West Philippine Sea where it illegally posting Philippine territories.
In an interview, PAF spokesman Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said the acquisition of the FA50s is a good start to enhance the present air capability of PAF.“Well, the FA50s will greatly enhance our air defense capability. This would signal the start of our territorial defense initiatives so that brings us closer to what we want to attain, what we plan to achieve which is the minimum credible defense. Definitely, this is a positive start towards that end,” he said.
But Okol said the acquisition of the FA50s does not stop there because the aircrafts are just training fighter jets.“Eventually we will be acquiring multirole fighter (MRF) jets when the time comes, and that is another level of territorial defense,” Okol said.
With the FA50s, the DND has yet to decide which Long Range Surveillance Radar System it will buy, whether the United States-made TPS-77 or the Israel-made ELM 2288.PAF is planning to acquire 3 radar units worth about P3 billion for the country’s air defense and to also fit with the FA50s.“The radars provide situational awareness so they look far beyond the horizon to see if somebody is infringing on our territorial sovereignty. The maritime patrol aircraft, the long range patrol aircraft are the ones looking into our maritime domain awareness,” Okol said.The DND is also eyeing the purchase of 4 anti-submarine helicopters worth P5.4 billion for its BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz, two 47-year-old decommissioned Hamilton-class cutters the Philippine Navy acquired from the US Coast Guard.
The helicopters, AW 159 “Wildcat”, are manufactured by Augusta Westland.