30 Agustus 2010
PAF's C-130 Hercules (photo : Airplane Pictures)
Air Force to buy 22 trainer jets, 15 helicopters
BASA AIR BASE, Pampanga, Philippines - The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is set to purchase new aircraft, including 22 trainer jets, seven attack helicopters and eight combat utility helicopters.
In an interview with The STAR, PAF spokesman Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Ocol also said the PAF is slated to buy refurbished aircraft including a C-130 cargo plane, and special mission aircraft.
“For 2010, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is awaiting the release of P5 billion from the Department of Budget and Management. These are projects for the modernization program that were funded from the BCDA (Bases Conversion and Development Authority) remittances from the sale of military lands at the Fort Bonifacio,” Ocol said.
He said the PAF’s morale remains high despite accusations that the Aquino administration had mishandled the recent bloody hostage incident in Manila.
He said President Aquino’s “commitment to the military” has endeared him to the PAF which believes in his “capable leadership as our commander-in-chief.”
“Unlike before, the morale of the military is really up, because of the confidence that President Aquino has the solid mandate of the people,” said Air Defense Wing commander Lt. Col. Manuel Renatigue.
Ocol said the initial batch of new aircraft - costing about P600 million - would consist of 22 propeller-driven SF-260 trainer aircraft from Italy.
The second package would consist of seven new attack helicopters, eight combat helicopters, and eight combat utility helicopters.
Refurbished aircraft to be acquired by the PAF would consist of 10 UH-1H helicopters, C-130H cargo plane, and one special mission aircraft.
Ocol could not immediately say how much the aircraft under Package 2 would cost, but he noted that “the seven attack helicopter purchase is currently on the bidding stage with the bid opening scheduled on Sept. 9.”
He said that the acquisition of eight units of combat utility helicopters from Poland is “awaiting the opening of the letter of credit.”
“We do not purchase from countries whose military do not use the aircraft we’re buying,” he stressed.
Ocol also said that the acquisition of 10 UH-1H helicopters “is undergoing review of technical specifications,” while the purchase of an “upgraded C-130H is currently on the bidding process with the pre-bid conference to be participated in by interested proponents on Sept. 20.”
“The plan for a special mission aircraft is also currently in the process of requirement determination,” he added.
Ocol said that the P5-billion modernization program is provided for in the AFP Modernization Law approved in 1995.
Renatigue said the acquisition program consists of three phases of six years each, called “horizons” by the PAF. He said Horizon 1 pertains to “internal security operations,” which supposedlly ended last July.
“While Horizon 1 already ended, we are still implementing its last phases with the purchases of trainer aircraft. Horizon 2 is supposed to provide the transition towards external defense which is Horizon 3,” he said.
Ocol said that under Horizon 3, the PAF plans to purchase multi-role fighter aircraft, surface attack/lead-in fighter aircraft, air defense radar systems, long-range patrol aircraft, and ground based air defense systems equipment, among others.
“While there is no external threat that needs air defense at the moment, these modern aircraft can be used for other purposes that might suit national interest,” Ocol said.