DEFENSE Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Thursday said the initial batch of FA-50 trainer fighter jets that they had ordered from South Korea are due to arrive before the year ends.
At least two of the 12 fighter jets, according to Gazmin, will be delivered sometime in September and the rest in 2015 or a year before the Aquino administration bows out.
He said four of the best pilots of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) will be sent to South Korea to undergo training on how to fly fighter jets as part of the P18.9-billion contract that the Defense department signed with Korea Aerospace Industries for the supply of the 12 FA-50 trainer fighter jets.
The deal for the 12 fighter jets was sealed last March, alongside the acquisition of eight utility helicopters worth P4.8 billion from the Canadian Commercial Corp.
Earlier, Col. Miguel Okol, director for operations, Philippine Air Force-Air Defense Wing, said two test pilots and two operation pilots will be chosen from among the best in the Air Force’s pilot pool holding the rank of captain to major.
The fresh acquisition, Okol said, would draw the Air Force closer to its goal of achieving a minimum credible defense capability.
He explained that the two-seater FA-50s would only be part of a defense system that PAF is trying to come up with that includes radars and long-range patrol aircraft.
Meanwhile, Gazmin announced that four of the 21 refurbished Huey combat utility helicopters acquired to beef up the lifting capability of the Air Force are being assembled in Clark Field in Pampanga.
He said assembling the four choppers would be finished just in time for the 67th founding anniversary of the Philippine Air Force on July 1.
Gazmin added that three more of the 21 Huey helicopters are expected to arrive next month.