THE Department of National Defense (DnD) will sign today a deal for the acquisition of 12 FA-50 fighter jets and eight helicopters for the Philippine Air Force worth P23.7 billion.
Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista and the representatives of the Korean Aerospace Industries (KIA) and the Canadian Commercial Corp. (CCC) will sign the contract in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City
The KIA will supply the 12 FA-50s fighter jets worth P18.9 billion while the CCC will provide the eight helicopters costing P4.8 billion.
PAF spokesman Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol on Thursday said the fresh acquisition will draw the force closer to its goal of achieving a minimum credible defense capability.
Okol explained that the fighter jets will be part of a defense system that the Air Force is eyeing, which includes, among others, radars and long-range patrol aircraft.
“The next step is the multirole fighters. That would make us more ready,” Okol said.
“This will be a very positive step towards realizing that goal of being able to attain multi-role fighters in the future,” he added. “This is good news and we at the PAF are very excited at this development considering our preponderance for internal defense for the past 11 years.”
Okol explained that the two-seater FA-50 plane will serve as a fighter jet and lead-in fighter trainers to help build a pool of well-trained pilots in preparation for the acquisition of a more modern single-seater fighter jets.
“They are two seaters but most of the systems that they have are fighter like. So it gives us that capability that we can also use to our defense and we can also use it for training,” he pointed out.
Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said the aircraft will be delivered 18 months after the contract is signed or sometime in September 2015.
The four brand-new choppers, on the other hand, will complement the existing air assets of the air force that are mostly refurbished.
“These are more capable because they’re twin-engine. They have more up-to-date avionics and night vision capability so it will definitely complement the existing fleet,” Okol said.