THE Philippine Air Force (PAF) will continue to train more pilots even as it awaits ten additional FA-50 fighter jets in the next two years, Maj. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar, the chief of air staff, announced on Monday.
At the same time, Kintanar disclosed that two of the recently delivered supersonic aircrafts from South Korea will be based at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga because the Basa Air Base in Floridablanca town in the province and the airfields in Subic Bay are not prepared to accommodate them.
“Definitely for next year, it’s going to be in Clark [where the next batch of the supersonic jets will be based]. The facilities, both in Basa Air Base in Pampanga and in Subic, they are not prepared to accommodate the FA 50, so what will happen is we’re going to fix those facilities,” he said.
“By middle of next year if things go well in the repair of some facilities in Subic, we might be able to transfer some of our operations there, in Basa it will take longer, the whole of next year will be, including the aerodrome facilities there, the runway, the hangars everything, and by 2017 we see that Basa will be operationalized for fighter operations,” Kintanar added.
According to the Air Force official, Antonio Bautista Air Base in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, will also be improved to accommodate the fighter jets and other modern aircraft.
“Hopefully as we train new pilots for the FA-50 and as soon as we call them combat-ready, they would be deployed in those areas.., we are going to train more pilots [as]we are going to get more aircraft by 2017 and also hopefully by 2018, we’ll see them deployed already in Palawan,” Kintanar said.
Delivery of the first batch of FA-50 fighter jets is part of the Air Force modernization program.
The remaining 10 fighter jets will be delivered in batches up to 2017.
The Department of National Defense sealed the jet acquisition contract with Korea Aerospace Industries last year at a cost of P18.9 billion.