The Philippines will continue to pursue its acquisition of 12 FA-50 fighter jets from South Korea to beef up the country’s defense capability.
Speaking to reporters in Seoul Thursday night, President Benigno Aquino 3rd said said the Philippines and Korea pledged to speed the process for the procurement.
“We’re just finishing some things both in their laws and our laws regarding the procurement. The details were really plenty,” he said
“[But] the bottom line [is that]both sides agreed to try and expedite the arms purchase and the delivery of these planes,” he said.
The Philippine government has allocated P18.976-billion to purchase new jets as part of the plan to modernize the military.
The 12 new jets would primarily be used to train pilots and also to patrol the country’s borders.
“We’re handling this [as a]G-to-G [government-to-government] procurement. There were several models that were looked at by the Air Force and after all of the negotiations, this is their preference,” the President noted, referring to the Korean Aerospace Industries Inc. (KAI) which developed the aircraft.
The President said the purchase was part of the commitment of both countries to improve military cooperation.
Aquino and South Korean President Park Geun-hye witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two countries that calls for greater cooperation in the arms industry.
Malacanang earlier said the FA-50s will be the first fighter jet acquisition for the Philippine Air force since it retired the last of its US-designed F-5 fighters in 2005.
“We don’t have any existing jets right now that are in use, therefore it is necessary for us to upgrade. This is part of the ongoing process of modernizing our military hardware,” Lacierda told reporters.
The jets, he said, would be used for “training, interdiction and disaster response.” They are equipped with cameras for aerial survey.
Aquino stressed that the planned purchase was “not aimed at any particular country” despite the new tensions with China over conflicting maritime territorial claims in the South China Sea.
President Aquino discussed acquiring more South Korean military hardware when South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak visited the Philippines in November 2011.
CATHERINE S. VALENTE