Philippine president vows to rebuild air force by 2016

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MANILA: Philippine President Benigno Aquino vowed Monday to acquire fighter jets, air defense radar and other equipment within three years to bolster the country’s weak air force, amid a territorial dispute with China.

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“I assure you that before I step down from office, our skies will be guarded by modern air assets,” he said in a speech during a visit at an air base in Clark, north of Manila. The speech was broadcast live on radio and television.

Among these are “lead-in fighters, long-range patrol aircraft, close-air-support aircraft”, as well as transport planes, attack- and multi-use helicopters, air defense radar and flight simulators.

He gave no details of the aircraft and equipment, or the terms for their acquisition.

In January an Aquino spokesman announced the government would buy 12 South Korean FA-50 fighter jets to be used for “training, interdiction and disaster response”.

The Philippines, a former US colony, retired the last of its US-designed F-5 fighters in 2005 and lacks air defense.

Aquino, whose-six-year term ends in mid-2016, has set about modernizing the military in his first three years in office as tensions rise with China over overlapping territorial claims to islands and waters in the South China Sea.

The main focus was initially the navy with the acquisition of two Hamilton-class cutters decommissioned by the US Coast Guard.

The first of the two refurbished vessels became the Philippine Navy’s flagship in 2011, replacing a warship initially built for the US Navy in World War II.

The second cutter is set to arrive in the Philippines later this year.

Aquino said Monday he was committed to reversing the under-spending on military capability that he said had characterized the Philippines since the early 1990s.

“Over the past decades the air force had its wings broken and we relied on old and rickety planes and equipment,” he said.

Parliament has since authorized the defense department to spend 75 billion pesos ($1.7 billion) on modernizing the military over the next five years, Aquino added.

This is on top the more than 19 billion pesos that it had spent over the past three years for this purpose.

Between 1992 and 2010, the Philippines had spent just 33 billion pesos for military modernization, Aquino said.

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1 Comment

  1. Jojo Rendon on

    In my 30’s OF AGE I have seen that many presidents already been elected, re-elected and term ended. While only countable presidents or selected presidents only that we can rely on, as a Filipino national we have also of course an aim and ambition in life to heard from other nation of how the country Philippine is. To be guarded and be protected by our own military as well is what we need with these we are doing our very best to help our own beloved nation. We have suffered a lot under the Marcos regime and now that we have recovered a bit and we also have some of monetary reserves, I think what our respected president Aquino III doing now is for the well protection of our nation and people. I do agree with his plans making our own air and land base defense stronger and while we are doing these we should have another group checking and inspecting our land underneath and search for another natural resources like Gas, Crude etc. As an OFW we are promising our loving nation that we will help until the very end of our life for the sake of our nation THE PHILIPPINES. And as of the dispute between with China this 2013, it seems that it is not right to just hearing the threats. I do believe that our government is doing its best for the peaceful result other than if China would insist of such occupancy with some of our country’s part then we should be strong and fight what belongs to us. While the meeting is on-going we do not know what will be the consequences, we should better move returning the US base for our safety and the protection of our loving family and nation. While the presence of the US troops are with us we therefore should continuing upgrading our own defense until we fully develop and when that time comes If we are ready and possible to stand alone then we will kindly request for the US troops to leave us once again in a friendly way or manner as US is already a part of our lives indeed. ‘Til then I would thank you for allowing me to share my opinion. May have peace in our land ‘ MABUHAY ANG MAMAMAYANG FILIPINO’.