F-16A at AMARC Arizona, USA (photo : F16net)
THE Philippines has reportedly asked the US for a squadron of used F-16 “Fighting Falcon” fighter jets to boost the country’s external defense.
While the request calls for the F-16s to be given to the country for free, the Philippine government is willing to pay for any upgrades or modifications that may be needed for the aircraft, sources said.
The proposed deal reportedly involves the transfer of used F-16s from the US’s excess equipment now stored at the US Air Forces’ “aircraft boneyard” in Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.
The F-16 “Fighting Falcon” is one of the most versatile multi-role fighter planes in the US Air Force. It has been used since 1974.
The recent saber-rattling by China over the Spratly Islands and some other areas on the West Philippine Sea has prompted the country to seek an air superior fighter plane, sources said.
The Philippines has always relied on the US for its external defense because of the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty, thus the country has seen no need to boost its external defense in the past.
The recent events in the Spratlys, however, prompted the need to have an air superior fighter to discourage the Chinese air force from intruding into Philippine air space.
About five years ago, the Air Force mothballed its eight remaining 1960-vintage F-5 “Freedom Fighters” that were acquired from South Korean and Taiwan because they are no match for the more modern fighters now used by practically all civilized countries and are expensive to maintain.
Thus, the Air Force had to rely on trainer planes to support the government’s campaign against Moro separatists and communist rebels.
Before the Arroyo administration stepped down, it purchased 18 Italian-made SF-260 trainers that are also being used as light ground attack aircraft.
In addition, the Air Force has S-211 trainer jets that are also used as maritime patrol aircraft and ground attack planes.
As maritime patrol aircraft, however, the S-211s are not that efficient since they lack electronic equipment to “see” what they are patrolling. Thus, what the aircraft can “see” are all that the two pilot can spot with their eyes.
The Air Force has five S-211 jets.
The F-16 “Fighting Falcon” is a multi-role jet fighter aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Corp.
It is meant to be and air superiority fighter.
Indonesia recently acquired 24 F-16 fighters. It is also used by the air forces of Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand and Singapore.