Aermacchi SF-260 (photo : Flight Global)
PAF Getting 18 New Training Jets at P660M
THE Air Force will receive a new batch of 18 brand-new SF-260 basic training aircraft before the Air Force Day celebration on July 2. The jets are being assembled at a facility in Clark Air Base. The whole package is costing the government P660 million.
The new aircraft will augment the squadron of trainers of the Air Education Command at the Fernando airbase in Lipa City.
The Italian-made SF-260 is a propeller-driven, two-seater that has been the backbone of the PAF training schools for decades. Only six of old SF-260 remain out of the two squadrons of the original batch, but some of them are still serviceable and could be repaired or upgraded, according to Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena.
He added the purchase of new combat helicopters is just waiting for the signature of Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales. “We’re getting eight combat helicopters at a cost of P3 billion.”
Rabena said this new generation of helicopters are capable of higher payloads and are more maneuverable. They are made in Sokol, Poland. They will replace some of the aging UH-IH “Hueys.”
The PAF has a fleet of seven UH-IH dedicated to purely search and rescue; 34 others are in several Air Force centers all over the country, ready for various missions.
Rabena said the Armed Forces Modernization program, which started during the Ramos administration, had been replaced by a Modest Defense Capability program. Part of the new tack are long-range radars, lead-in jet trainers and multirole fighters.
“The purchase of these equipment would depend on the budget allocation and would be procured through the Multiyear Obligational Authority. The country will pay for all these hardware in a period of several years,” said Rabena, because their price “is quite high, but still within the country’s capability.”
The PAF also still has six of the S-211 jet trainers and these would soon be replaced. “We were ordered to submit the generic types of jet trainers to choose from that would be able to satisfy the technical specifications of the AFP.”
Rabena also announced some personnel changes—at the Public Information Office, Lt. Col. Gerry Zamudio is being replaced by Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol; at the Office of Special Studies, Lt. Col. Aristotle Gonzales is being replaced by Lt. Col. Connor Anthony Canlas, and at the Modernization Project Management Office, Col. Jose Tanjaun Jr. is being replaced by Col. Dino Diño.