05 November 2010
PAF's new SF-260 primary training aircraft (photo : Inquirer)
THE Air Force yesterday took delivery of four of the 18 brand new trainer aircraft procured from an Italian company under the Armed Forces’ modernization program.
The SF-260 Marchetti planes were received by top officials of the defense and military establishment from Aerotech Industries, local partner of Alenia Aermacchi of Italy, at the Air Force facility in Clark Field in Pampanga.
Four more aircraft are expected next month, said Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena. He said they hope there will be full delivery not later than the second quarter of next year.
Rabena was joined by Armed Forces chief Gen. Ricardo David and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin in receiving the four aircraft.
The P622-million contract was awarded to the Italian firm last year.
A number of T-41 aircraft donated last year by South Korea are also being used by the Air Force in the training of its pilots. But Rabena said the Air Force still lacks trainer planes.
At least 150 to 170 Air Force officers are waiting in line for actual training to fly an aircraft, according to Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol, Air Force spokesman.
"The arrival of the four SF-260 Marchetti planes will boost the training capability of the Air Force and ease the backlog of students required to undergo flying exercises," Okol added.
Air Force pilots tested the four new planes, flying them to Fernando Air Base in Lipa City, home of the Air Force Flying School.