Noting an earlier pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte that the acquisition of fighter jets by the Aquino administration was a waste of money, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) has shelved its plan for a high-speed opener pass when the Commander-in-Chief graces the Air Force’s 69th anniversary on Tuesday.
Military officials would not comment that the removal of the high-speed opener pass was prompted by Duterte’s apparent dislike of the acquisition of FA-50 fighter jets, saying the aerial maneuver was excluded from the original program because of bad weather.
But an air show featuring ordinary aircraft will push through, according to Col. Robert Araus Musico, Air Force spokesman.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman, explained that the holding area of FA-50s is higher than small aircraft so it would be dangerous if the cloud cover was hit by the fighter jets.
“In all flight operations, safety is paramount. If the safety of the aircraft and pilots, or lives are put at risk along with the equipment, safety will supersede any consideration,” he said.
Duterte had said the acquisition of the FA-50s was a waste of money adding that the fighter jets may have little or no use at all in addressing the insurgency problem.
Military and defense officials said the President wants to make internal security operations a higher priority.
The Air Force had announced that it will be showing its pilots’ flight proficiency before Duterte when he attends the anniversary celebration at the Haribon Hangar inside Clark Air Base in Pampanga.
The air show will be topbilled by the Air Force Aerobatic Demonstration Team from Air Education and Training Command.
It will showcase a figure “69” formation of eleven T-41 and eleven SF-260FH/M, flyby of 69 various PAF aircraft that will be conducted simultaneously with the pass and review, drop from two C-130 aircraft of 69 PAF parachutists for a mass jump exhibition and final pass of two S-211 aircraft.