29 Januari 2012

DND, Armed Forces Eye Italian Weapon

29 Januari 2012

Philippines Air Force operates some Italian-made aircraft : S-211 and SF-260 (photo : PhIlippine Fly Boy)

A JOINT team from the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces will be in Italy this week to scout for assets that will strengthen the defense capability of the military.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the team will look for aircraft, vessels and even armored vehicles that could be acquired by the military for both of its external defense and internal security operations.

Over the weekend, Gazmin said the department will be acquiring weapons and assets for the Armed Forces amounting to P70 billion.

The budget for the acquisition will be spread up to 2020 or even beyond the term of the current administration.

Since the massive procurement could not be financed by the government in just one release, the defense chief said the acquisition will be done through a Multi-Year Obligation Agreement (MYOA) from Congress.

Adoption of the MYOA was first proposed during the term of Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro as a scheme in financing the military’s capability upgrade program, and which was implemented during the term of Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales in 2010.

In fact, a contract for the delivery of a multirole vessel from South Korea was sealed by Gonzales under the same scheme. Payment of installments for the warship began last year.

Gazmin said that aside from the US, which is the country’s principal sources of assets and equipment for the military’s capability upgrade, the defense department is also looking at Italy, Spain, France, United Kingdom and South Korea as possible sources of assets.

From Italy, the defense chief said the same team will also visit Spain for the same purpose, and both trips will be taking this week.

“We will see the best we can get for the funds available, that will be the first priority,” Gazmin said.

He said the assessment, inspection and possibly even acquisitions should be done at least by July this year.

“It should be finished by July, or worse case scenario, by November. But by July, we should have attained at least 50 percent, that is already a good batting average,” Gazmin said.

He said the government is looking to acquire armored vehicles; aircraft, including long range patrol aircraft and fighter jets that include the F-16 from the US; multirole vessels; missile-armed ships; anti-submarine vessels and radars.

Gazmin said the interdiction capability of the military will be useless if it will not have enforcement weapons such as fighter jets and ships with guided missiles.

The big ticket procurements were necessary to defend the country’s territory and discourage intrusions into its maritime domain, particularly by China.

Gazmin said the modern weapons and assets are also necessary in so that the country is able to put up a credible force and protect its territory in the disputed Spratlys.

Meanwhile, two US Navy ships are in the country for routine port calls.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108) docked at the Manila Bay while the USS Chafee (DDG-90) dropped anchor in Cebu.

“USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Chafee are here to engage with their counterparts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and perform Community Relations Projects, as well as allowing the crew an opportunity for rest and relaxation,” the US Embassy in Manila said in a statement.

“These goodwill visits highlight the strong historic, community, and military connections between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines,” the statement added.

At the same time, at least three retired military officials have been hired by the various agencies of the Department of National Defense as consultants, primarily to help in the procurement of assets and equipment for the military.

Peter Paul Galvez, DND spokesman said, the three retired officers, were hired to help the department in its defense acquisition system for the Armed Forces.

They are retired Lt. Gen. Willie Florendo from the Air Force, Vice Adm. Luisito Fernandez from the Navy and Gen. Victor Ibrado, former Armed Forces chief of staff.

“Their functions are to give advise on the perspective of the modernization. At least, they have the experience although they are already outside the Armed Forces,” Galvez said.

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